Ted Grant

Henry Wallace—What he stands for

Source: Socialist Appeal, no. 41 (Mid-April 1947)
Transcription: Francesco 2008
Markup: Manuel 2008

Henry Wallace, the American “Liberal”, has been addressing a large number of meetings in Britain attacking the present policy of Truman.

At the same time as Wallace condemns the American moves to establish world domination, especially directed against Russia, by propping up reaction in Greece and Turkey and elsewhere, he claims that Roosevelt’s policy was entirely “different” and even “progressive.” But under the Roosevelt administration, the same policy of furthering the world domination of American imperialism was pursued.

In his speech at Manchester, under the auspices of the Lancashire and Cheshire Federation of Trades Councils, Wallace demagogically stated:

“…In the manpower and equipment of America and Britain we have the resources to do the job of peaceful world reconstruction… Never in our history has farm and factory production approached our present record heights. Fifty-eight million American workers, devoted to useful production, can launch a great offensive against our real enemies, poverty, homelessness, disease, and hunger. American fertiliser plant and farm machinery can transform the lives and standards of hundreds of millions within a generation. American machine tools and equipment for power plants, docks, and railroads can start poverty-stricken peoples on the road to modern life.”

Wallace is no socialist. He is no representative of the working class. All this would be true if Wallace did not cynically ignore the fatal flaw in such schemes: capitalists are not interested in production to benefit the peoples of the world or even their own people. They are interested only in profits.

If the productive forces in the world were to be utilised for the purposes of construction, the entire planet could be transformed and the standards of living and level of culture raised to undreamed of heights. This is not possible under capitalism. Plenty under this system can only produce crises of over-production, slumps and unemployment, because of the basic necessity of the capitalist class to make profits. Despite the hunger and famine in dozens of countries, potatoes in millions of bushels have been destroyed in America because there was a “surplus”. It was not profitable to feed the starving peoples ‑ therefore the American capitalist class preferred to plough and crush the potatoes into the ground. So it is under Truman. So it was under Roosevelt.

The American capitalists openly forecast a new “economic recession” in the immediate future. This springs from the economic laws of the system, not the desires, good or bad, on the part of the capitalists.

In reality, these sugary phrases of Wallace serve the same purpose as did Roosevelt’s New Deal propaganda.

Wallace openly revealed his calculations when be said that he expected he would gain support for his policy when the inevitable depression affected America. The American workers are in no mood to tolerate a new slump without mass protest. Without a “radical” alternative, they would break away from the old capitalist parties and move towards Socialism and Communism as a way out.

Consequently Wallace’s liberal phrases act as a convenient means of preventing the break away of the workers in America, especially the organised workers, from capitalist policies and the traditional Republican and Democratic capitalist parties.

When Wallace was questioned at his Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent meeting, he said that in all probability he would not form a third party, in American politics. Thus even a Liberal, capitalist set-up, would only be undertaken by Wallace, in order to prevent the formation of a genuine Labour Party, based as the British Labour Party has been on the trade unions, and organised on a class basis.

That this is so, is shown by the fact that Wallace still remains in the Democratic Party, which is united with the Republicans to support Truman in his imperialist course: the course of American Big Business. Between him and Truman there are no fundamental divergences on principle. It is purely a question of the division of Labour. Both serve the same interests. But Wallace represents a reserve weapon of American imperialism. Truman indicated this recently when he pointed out that Wallace intended to support the candidates of the Democratic Party at the next election.

The policies of Wallace, no more than the policy of Trumanism can [not] solve the problems of the American or world working class. Only the unity of the workers, leading to a Socialist Europe and a Socialist World can produce that “One World” which can abolish want and oppression, fascism and war.