Paul Temple

Spilled Beans and Crystal Gazing:

The British Tories and Hitlerism

(January 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 2, 12 January 1942, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

A lot of people don’t look very far ahead before jumping into something. This explains, for instance, (1) why installment payment companies make money on defaults; (2) why some people get married, and —

(3) Why there is about 99 per cent more enthusiasm for this war now than there probably will be by the time it’s over.

So, when you see that dot-dot-dot-dash around, you might ask: “Victory – for what?” For democracy, or for profit?

A case of spilled beans is sometimes as good as a crystal ball to enable you to catch a glimpse into the future of this war. We’ve got two cases this week, one of democracy and one on profit.

Anthony Eden, Foreign Secretary in the Churchill Tory government, came home this week from his talks with Stalin and told the press:

“The trouble with Hitler was not that he was a Nazi at home. The trouble with him was that he would not stay at home.”

Trade unions smashed in Germany? No trouble. A whole nation thrown-back into slavery? No trouble. Fascism is all right as long as it stays off the toes of the British Empire and its interests.

If these gentlemen thought fascism was good enough before the war as a means of crushing revolution in Europe; if they are willing to say publicly even today that bloody dictators are all right provided they aren’t anti-British bloody dictators – isn’t it clear that they are NOT interested in tearing up fascism by the roots and using their victory to make the world safe fore democracy?

The beans are rolling all over the lot. These men aren’t interested in destroying Hitlerism or fascism; they just want a Hitler who’d “stay at home.”

The Excess-Profits Tax

Take the Powers-That-Be in the United States. What THEY would do with a victory won by the blood and heroism off young men is pretty clear from what they ARE doing right now.

Labor Action has carried facts and figures on the enormous war profits being by the same patriotic corporations. Several months ago, however, Congress passed an excess profits tax law which was supposed to prevent, extra war profits from rolling into the coffers of the rich. That it hasn’t done anything of the sort can be read on the financial page of the New York Times. More than that: the government knew in advance that it would not; they were playing the same game as in 1917! About; half way between the First World War and this one, Congress was informed in an official report that the war experience had shown that the excess profits tax not only did not prevent profits but actually INCREASED them! They were so informed by the head of the War Industries Board, Bernard Baruch. He told them:

“Excess profits taxes – standing alone – have no effect whatever to check inflation. Their only effect is to increase it ... One way to increase $500,000 profit to $1,000,000 profit without increased risk or effort is to double prices – and therefore profits – under an 80 per cent, excess profits tax than there is without it. Indeed, the main result of such a system is to induce rapid price increases to absorb the tax.”

That’s simple enough even for a congressman to understand. The tax was passed along to the consumer.

A Mess of Spilled Beans

Now a mess of spilled beans comes along to prove that exactly the same thing is happening right now. The American Banker reports Tax Expert F.E. Seidman as revealing:

“... that corporations are taking advantage of the prevailing ‘sellers market’ to pass the excess profits tax along to the consumer.” “Thus by a curious inversion,” said the tax authority, “a tax that was designed to correct excess profits has itself, become a cause for excess profits.”

It is not an “unpatriotic minority” of business men who are doing this. The figures on profits and prices, as well as the reports, prove that this was and is the general practice of ALL business. And the government has not even taken the trouble to make another “proposal” about stopping it.

We emphasize: to the capitalist class victory can mean only a broader and better opportunity to coin profit out of American control of the world: And these are the leaders who will decide, when the time comes, what victory will mean. “Curious,” says the tax expert.

“Not at all,” say the profiteers. “This system of ours is designed to run on profit, not philanthropy or idealism. That’s why it’s called the profit system. Even Hitler is ‘no trouble’ as long as he keeps hands off OUR profits.

“Railroads are run – for profit. Prices are raised – for profit. Wars are fought – for profit. And peace treaties are written – for profit ... to the victor.”

Last updated on 25.3.2013