Joseph Hansen

Lovestone Weeps with Pity for the Bankers

(23 March 1940)

Source: Socialist Appeal, Vol. 4 No. 12, 23 March 1940, p. 4.
Transcription/HTML Markup: 2018 by Einde O’Callaghan.
Public Domain: Joseph Hansen Internet Archive 2018; This work is completely free. In any reproduction, we ask that you cite this Internet address and the publishing information above.

In his article published in the March 2 issue of the Workers Age, official organ of the Lovestoneites, Mr. Graham places the label “Trotskyite Super ‘Ham-and-Eggs’ Plan” upon the emergency demands which the Socialist Workers Party suggests the labor movement make upon Congress. These demands include the following immediate legislation: $10,000,000,000 for the unemployed, a 30-hour week at minimum pay of $30, disability and old age pensions of $30 a week, and $3,000,000,000 for the youth.

Such demands, claims Mr. Graham, are not feasible under capitalism and therefore should not be raised by the labor movement. He attempts to prove this by pointing to the national income and the federal income and then deducing that these sums are not large enough to carry out the demands of the suggested program. Such arguments, we note in passing, are the stock in trade of all the attorneys of the capitalist system from the Chamber of Commerce right down to the most miserable pettifogging labor lieutenant of Wall Street.

(Mr. Graham draws the moral that our suggesting such demands indicates “again and once again the Stalinists and Trotskyists have something in common – an unprincipled and demagogic appeal to the backwardness and illusions of the masses.” This from the Lovestoneites who white washed the Moscow Trials and who are now shouting that it is possible – under capitalism! – to “Keep America Out of War.”)

Are these emergency demands feasible? Is there not enough wealth available in the United States to provide food, clothing, shelter, and jobs for everyone immediately? Let us see.

It Can Be Done!

If it is merely a question of raising the national income or of providing the necessary funds which Mr. Graham believes the present federal income could not provide (under the present tax structure controlled by Wall Street), here are some practical proposals which if carried out would immediately make possible not only the granting of the above emergency demands but far bigger and more important needs of the poverty-stricken levels of the populace:

  1. Open the idle factories and run them at full capacity, providing jobs for all the unemployed in productive enterprises at trade union wages. This would immediately raise the national income, about which Mr. Graham worries, to many times its present figure. True, some of the coupon-clippers might have to take a factory job, but what they lost in dividends from their stock would be made up hundreds of‘times over by what the workers gained in wages. And who, aside from the Lovestoneites, would concern themselves about the whining objections of the stockholders who now live by exploiting and plundering the poor?
  2. Expropriate the parasitic Sixty Families who now dominate and control the nation’s industries and who operate them for their private benefit at the expense of the rest of the population. This would immediately provide far more than the amount of funds necessary to carry out the proposed emergency program – thus answering the Lovestoneite objection that the federal income is inadequate to supply the funds we call for. True, the Sixty Families would find it somewhat distasteful but again who, aside from the Lovestoneites, feels any tenderness for these completely useless and decayed aristocrats of high society?
  3. Run the national industries under the control of factory committees elected by the workers. If the workers themselves controlled the industries, even though they were still “owned” by the capitalists they could be trusted to see to it that the productive system was run at maximum efficiency and that all the secret bookkeeping, the secret deals, the swindles, and frauds which now bleed the enterprises of the nation would be ended. Under this control, the workers could even guarantee their former bosses $30 a week (if they worked 30 hours a week) or a pension of $30 a week if they were old or disabled. Under such control of industry by the workers there would be a tremendous leap in production that would immediately raise the national income and the federal income far above the present figures.

Any one of the above three proposals, or all three taken together, if carried out, would provide the ‘answer to Mr. Graham’s objections that there aren’t enough funds available. And as a starter, just to relieve the worst cases now awaiting the pleasure of the relief authorities, how about the approximately $18,000,000,000 in pure gold now lying idle in the vaults at Fort Knox? Why not put this money to work relieving human distress? Why not distribute it immediately as a bonus to the unemployed, the underpaid, the aged, the youth, and the disabled while Congress gets the machine greased to put into effect the proposals which would have a more permanent effect?

To add up our proposed demands on a capitalist adding machine as the Lovestoneites have done – in an attempt to prove solely on the basis of the present national income under capitalism in its death agony and the present tax structure as controlled by Wall Street that these demands are not feasible – is sheer blockheadedness, an unprincipled and demagogic appeal to the backwardness and illusions of the masses.

The Masses Are Not Doomed!

We cannot agree with the implications of Mr. Graham’s article that the unemployed, the youth, the aged, and the disabled are doomed to suffer without hope of any gains whatsoever until socialism is securely established. A militant fight on the part of the masses for emergency appropriations by the present Congress would bring greater returns than even those outlined in the program carried on our front page masthead, if the militant fight mobilized the entire working class for the demands.

This program, we are the first to point out, does not offer a permanent solution. We have never claimed that it would. Only socialism can do that. Our entire program is designed to reach that permanent solution, to provide the oppressed masses with a program which will show them the road to that permanent solution.

But there is absolutely ho reason for anyone in a land as rich as this going hungry, ill-clothed, or shelterless while the toilers are organizing for socialism. Emergency appropriations by Congress are in order to relieve the present nationwide distress immediately. It is high time that the labor movement pitted its colossal power in a struggle for this elementary right.

(A third article on this question will appear next week.)


Last updated on: 18 July 2018