Hal Draper

Readers of Labor Action Take the Floor ...

— And a Brief Reply

(16 May 1949)

From Labor Action, Vol. 13 No. 20, 16 May 1949, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Two Criticisms
by Eugene Keller & Susan Green

Unfortunately the letter by Comrade Keller is based upon so complete and thorough a misreading of the article he is criticizing, that it is not easy to see where he got it from. His letter seems to be directed toward refuting the idea that the U.S. wants a preventive war now, or at least wants a war very quickly.

But the article (1) does not have one word which intimates any such absurd notion; (2) specifically points out that the plan being plugged by Clay, Royall et al. is for a LONG-TERM preparation – this indeed being the whole point! – and the “long-termness” of their proposal was stressed by the gentlemen themselves in the quotations given; (3) in the same issue, and in an editorial likewise written by the editor, precisely the question of a “quick war” is discussed, and the view reiterated that the looming war is some distance off. Indeed, the point of the editorial is that the Atlantic Pact may well lead to a temporary easing of the cold war – this BEFORE the news of the lifting of the blockade.

The plan of Clay, Royall and Co. for a long-term occupation by U.S. troops of the Iron Curtain border (with semi-official inspiration from the State Department) was put forward in a coordinated propaganda push coincident with the signing of the pact. It is too bad that Comrade Keller thinks it cannot be taken seriously. We will see more of it.

On the basis of all this, Comrade Keller thinks that the independent socialist demand for the withdrawal of U.S. occupation troops in Europe (as well as of Russian and all others, of course) is not an “effective political guide.” Why? A few more words on the connection would have been useful, especially if he is opposed to the demand – although his own attitude does not emerge from his letter.

The point of Comrade Green’s letter seems to be that the article could “very easily be mistaken for pro-Russian.” The reason for this, it appears, is because it attacks U.S. foreign policy and “only in passing” attacks Russian Stalinism.

We are afraid that Comrade Green’s criticism is rather belated, if this is really the source of her reaction. While every issue of Labor Action, generally speaking, directs its shafts against both American capitalism and Stalinist imperialism, most of its articles, taken individually, are either about one or the other – many of them without even a “passing” counter-balance (Comrade Green’s own excellent analyses of the Washington merry-go-round being no exception). The balance is in the paper, not necessarily within each article. Since the offending article is not in the slightest degree unusual in THIS respect, we find Comrade Green’s remarks a bit on the intemperate side. It is possible that, like Comrade Keller, she too was stirred by the question of U.S. occupation troops as raised in the article, but the actual content of her letter does not make it necessary to take up this question here, interesting as it would otherwise be.

Hal Draper

Last updated on 1 August 2019