[Hal Draper]

Readers of Labor Action Take the Floor ...

[Letter to New Leader]

(26 December 1949)

From Labor Action, Vol. 13 No. 52, 26 December 1949, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The following letter was sent this week to the New Leader, Social-Democratic weekly, by the editor of Labor Action.

Items like the “little falsification” referred to in the letter are intriguing, especially in view of the constant claim of the pink moralists that the bad-bolshevik-orthodox-Marxists have the detestable habit of distorting opponents’ views.Ed.


To the Editor of the New Leader:

I’ve just seen your issue of December 10 and noted the potshot at Labor Action in Daniel Seligman’s column Squinting at Labor. It sent me hotfoot to take a squint at the offending article, if only to find out how it got by my blue pencil if what Seligman says of it is true.

May I report that there is not even coincidental resemblance between Seligman’s quoteless paraphrase and anything written or implied in the Labor Action article?

Mr. Seligman’s barb is aimed at Gerald McDermott’s piece in our issue of November 28. Says your columnist: for orthodox Marxism “nothing can possibly happen which does not confirm it,” as witness McDermott, who argues:

“(1) that James W. Gerard’s conciliatory position during the steel strike, in which he urged his fellow stockholders to settle with Murray, illustrates capitalism’s fear of increased violence in the class struggle; and (2) that Enders M. Voorhees’ defiant position in the same strike also proves that the pace of the class struggle is being stepped up. Whatever the capitalists do, the Marxist view of an accelerating class struggle is triumphantly confirmed.”

The statement by Gerard was his warning to the corporation that if it did not deal with responsible labor leaders like Murray, then “it will have to deal with Socialists, Communists or worse,” because control of the union might pass to radicals who will not be satisfied with ten cents an hour but only with a “revolutionary seizure” of the steel mills.

(1) One comment which McDermott made on this (the only one bearing any resemblance to Seligman’s squib) is that “the capitalists, at least, are aware that the strike represents exactly the kind of class struggle that Marxists contend is present always in capitalist society.”

Nothing about an “accelerating class struggle.” The nearest thing to it is the warning by Gerard about the DANGER of radicalization IF a stiff-necked attitude is taken by business toward safe labor leaders like Murray. That’s Gerard, not McDermott.

(2) On Voorhees, Seligman’s paraphrase is simply invented from the first syllable. The only point made by the Labor Action article on Voorhees’ attitude is that it shows capitalism “is concerned with profits and not with the needs of the people.” Not very new, but hardly good for two inches of Seligman’s squinting column.

I’m enclosing the entire clipping for your own information so that you can suggest to Mr. Seligman (to safeguard your own reputation) that he mend his ways, or at least open his eyes wide while reading material with which he disagrees.

Incidentally, quite apart from Mr. Seligman’s little falsification, “orthodox Marxism” has not yet laid down the dogma that the class struggle is fated by “dialectics” to keep on “accelerating” at any hour of the day, week, year or decade. But I’m afraid that enlightening your Mr. Seligman on the views of Marxism may be a more formidable task than the more modest aim of this note.

Last updated on 11 December 2022