Hal Draper

The Cloven-Hoof of Democracy
Shows Itself in the M-Day Plan

The M-Day Plan, Conceived by the Generals and
Approved by the President, Is as Firm in Status as Any Law
Though Not Yet Passed by Congress to Avoid Public Alarm

(28 July 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 54, 28 July 1939, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

A number of articles on the Industrial Mobilization Plan of the government – the plan for the imposition of a war-dictatorship on M-Day – having appeared in the Appeal, several readers have asked us the same question. It is: Why get so excited about a plan, a proposal? It has not been passed by Congress; and the Sheppard-May bill which embodies the Plan seems to have no immediate prospect of passing. Reactionaries in the legislatures propose bills just as bad every day; this is just another example.

This question would not be asked if the government’s attitude toward the Plan were known. The I.M.P. is not only as good as passed; its status is more firm than if it were already embodied in a law passed by Congress.

First of all, the War Department which elaborated the Flan does not want it adopted by Congress at all – at present.

The text of the Industrial Mobilization Plan itself states that its enactment before war is upon us “is not desirable because such action would probably result in enactment into law of measures so detailed in their provisions and accompanied by so many restrictive clauses as to be a hindrance rather than an assistance in war.”

The Real Motive of the Government

The War Department officials know well enough that most Congressmen would refuse to take the responsibility before their constituencies for such a measure, at the present moment. And in point of fact, this is just what happened in 1935 when the McSwain mobilization Bill, providing for a draft, was ripped to pieces by Congressmen who had their ears to the ground.

At the hearings of the Nye Committee at the end of 1934, Senator Clark accused the War Department representative of the real motive: “You propose to wait until after the declaration of war, then send it all up to Congress to be passed in one bunch as an emergency measure, at a time when the cry will be raised that if Congress takes time to scrutinize it or study it in detail, they are delaying the defense of the country in a national emergency. Why is it not possible to send that legislation up there and have it examined in the meantime, before the declaration of war?”

The War Department (as well as General Hugh Johnson, who participated in the elaboration of the I.M.P.) admits that the mobilization measures are completely unconstitutional. They brush this aside because in wartime the Constitution becomes another “scrap of paper” – and what Supreme Court will question this in the midst of war? Only the Constitutional provisions which protect the profits of the bosses remain inviolable, for instance the “due process” clause protecting private property, which the I.M.P. specifically invokes as an answer to those who advocate government confiscation of the war industries in war time.

“It is my opinion that in time of war Congress should write a blank check” to the President, said Colonel Harris, another representative of the War Department. The government cannot expect a blank check now from Congressmen who want to. be re-elected.

As a matter of fact, the government has sought to keep the mobilization plan as far as possible out of the public gaze. It is not at all anxious to warn the masses of what they must expect when the war “for democracy” starts.

The I.M.P. is not the unconsidered proposal of some crackpot reactionary. It has been officially adopted by the War and Navy Departments, and has been endorsed by every president from Wilson to Franklin D. Roosevelt. All steps that can be taken to implement it, before actual war, have been taken or are rapidly being pushed to completion. The War Department, in its own calculations, does not consider it as being within the range of possibilities that it will not be put into effect at the proper time. For they know that a bosses’ government cannot wage war under any other set-up, and that it will have to be put into effect with or without Congressional sanction.

The Cloven Hoof of “Democracy”

As a matter of fact, on the basis of precedent, the I.M.P. does not even need legislative authorization. There is not a provision of the I.M.P., but the principle of which was put into operation during the World War. And this was done then without any special permissive legislation, merely on the basis of the government’s emergency war powers. The Espionage Act of 1917 and the National Defense Act are still on the books, and will automatically come into play with the opening of hostilities. Indeed, the reactionary Republican Wadsworth of New York, attacked the I.M.P. bills before Congress on the ground they were ... unnecessary, since laws already on the books could be used to authorize anything the War Department might want to do.

It is in the Industrial Mobilization Plan that the cloven hoof behind the cloak of American “democracy” betrays itself most openly. The fight against the Plan is not a matter of legislative lobbying, but of a struggle against the boss government in Washington and the war for profits which it is preparing.

Last updated on 10 March 2016