From Labor Action, Vol. 5 No. 51, 22 December 1941, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Everybody – at least everybody who owns a big newspaper – is telling us now that we’re fighting for civilization against treachery, or democracy against fascism, or something along those lines. Victory over the Forces of Evil is all we ought to think about right now, they say.
Now, personally, we like civilization and frown on treachery. But we’ve got to ask: What is victory going to mean when the shooting is over? What’s going to be the reward to the American people for the war years of sacrifice, slaughter and sorrow?
Ask the bankers; they know.
Before we ask them, it’s useful, to mention that their opinion has a certain weight in this case. The money-bag men are far and away the most CLASS-CONSCIOUS occupational group in these United States.
Class-consciousness is best measured by class ORGANIZATION. When a worker joins a trade union, it is because he sees that he has to fight with other workers for the interests of ALL workers, in order to get what HE wants. Trade unionism is CLASS organization.
The bankers have their union too – the American Bankers Association. And where only 23 per cent of the workers belong to their unions, over 90 per cent of the bankers belong to the ABA and a full 100 per cent belong to some bankers’ association or other. That gives the bankers the only national closed shop in the country.
Last month, the American Banker, unofficial organ of the ABA, reprinted a circular advertisement which is being spread around by the Nebraska bankers. It is a warning, and this is how it sets out:
“YOU CAN READ THE HANDWRITING ON THE WALL!
“Make no mistake about it! You can now read ‘the handwriting on the wall.’
“WAR BOOM – INFLATION – DEFLATION – DEPRESSION – DISTRESS.
“So, there is just one thing for every sane man and woman to do. Put your house in order. GET READY FOR THE WORST STORM AND COLLAPSE OF BUSINESS FOLLOWING THIS WAR WHICH THE WORLD HAS EVER KNOWN ...”
These are the terms in which bankers and bankers’ organizations all over the country are talking.
In the boom days of Coolidge prosperity, the capitalists proclaimed that Utopia was at hand. In the war boom of 1917, they promised us a world of peace, security and prosperity, once Kaiserism was crushed. But TODAY the tycoons are going into this war boom with full expectation that a war-weary people will emerge from it INTO THE WORST ECONOMIC CRISIS IN HISTORY.
In the balmy, palmy boom days of the ‘20s, only the Marxist socialists predicted that it MUST end in the crash that was inevitable under capitalism.
Now, for the first time, the whole capitalist class is predicting the direst of depressions and the blackest of futures following this war, “unless something is done about it.”
This means more than merely that our economic overlords are getting wise to the facts of economic life. Looking ahead to the storm, they are preparing now to “put the house in order” – bankers’ order.
For they have only one way of preventing a post-war crash from sweeping the foundations of the profit system from under their feet. What’s more, they know it as well as we.
That way is to put a fascist strait-jacket on the workers, and let THEM take the full battering of the post-war depression, while the bosses shelter themselves behind wage-cutting, speed-up and a fiercer exploitation of labor.
They know this, and they SAY this.
To begin with, there’s the recent article in Business Week, entitled A Report on National Defense and the Future of Profits. Why don’t big business and finance “face the future with confidence” in the midst of a boom? Because, says the article, they fear that AFTER THE WAR, when the bubble bursts, profits will be kept down especially by high wages, BACKED UP BY THE INCREASED UNIONIZATION OF THE AMERICAN WORKERS.
So the fat boys are pessimistic because of the threat that labor will refuse to be the fall-guy in the coming collapse and will fight back THROUGH ITS ORGANIZATIONS. The cure is simple: get rid of the independent labor organizations. The means is at hand: HITLER’S WAY.
Just to show that we are not putting any words in their mouths, the American Banker came out with it in an editorial on November 8. The editor “views with alarm” the prospect of inflation and its consequences and proposes a sure-fire remedy: a “point-blank refusal” by business and government to raise wages anymore. He goes on to sharpen the point:
“On a national scale this would be a ‘ceiling’ on wages and salaries; THE NAZIS GOT AROUND TO THAT EARLY. But with a ceiling on wages, government and business would still have the problem of keeping workers from skipping out to go to better paid job vacancies, and the cure for that would be ‘freezing’ the worker in his job; THE NAZIS FOUND THAT WAS THE NEXT STEP.” (Our emphasis)
The American Banker stops with that step. But it doesn’t take much imagination to see that there are quite a few steps after this all of which “the Nazis got around to” sooner or later.
Does that mean we are for fascist regimentation? asks the editorial. “Well,” it answers, “we are not for it any more than you are,” BUT “neither are we for inflation” and the consequences of a post-war blow-up. All of which means: Sorry, boys, but it looks as if fascism may just turn out to be NECESSARY.
This attitude does not differ by a whit from that of the German industrialists toward the Nazis when they called them to power.
The gentlemen of the Bankers Association are naturally super-duper war whoopers. But the dust doesn’t get into their own eyes.
Last updated on 25.2.2013