J.R. Johnson

Hillman and the Corruption in U.S. Politics

(July 1944)

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 29, 17 July 1944, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for MIA.

The working class heeds a political party of its own. If it does not have such a pasty it is defenseless against capitalist politics and capitalist corruption. Worse than that capitalist political corruption takes on a particularly destructive character when it is preached by working class leaders and representatives. We have recently had a shameful and instructive example at this in the actions of the CIO Political Action Committee.

The Political Action Committee is led by Sidney Hillman, who has a reputation for being a “progressive.” The committee is supposed to mobilize the working class in order to “induce the fullest participation by American, workers and other progressives in the determination of our national policies and the selection of our government leaders.” This quotation comes from a PAC pamphlet with the imposing title Political Principles for All Americans.

Hillman Slanders the Workers

What are the principles expounded for the workers by this supposedly working class document? Here is one of them:

“The truth is that politicians are no more corrupt than the people who elect them. The people corrupt the politicians. They demand traffic enforcement along with ticket-fixing. They want an efficient, honest police force and civil service so long as their sons and cousins get jobs – and a fine school system with the faculty staffed with relatives. The politician who refuses requests for patronage and spoils is told that he’ll not be re-elected.”

So, the people corrupt the politicians! Who writes this? Westbrook Pegler? Some open enemy, some capitalist slanderer of the working people? No! It comes from the Political Action Committee of the CIO, one of the greatest industrial organizations of workers the world has ever known. We are to believe from now on that the political corruption in Washington and the state governments, the cheating of the public, the financial swindles and deals, the open and secret load of the dice FOR the capitalists and AGAINST the masses of the people, the constant shifting of the burden of taxation onto the people, all this criminality, dishonesty and corruption are supposed to come from the people. The people are corrupt. If they were not corrupt they would elect honest politicians. Meanwhile, Hillman says, let us have Roosevelt for a fourth term.

Sidney Hillman and his pamphleteers must be told a few things they ought to know. Politics is always a reflection, a necessary counterpart of an economic system. The capitalist system is based upon the economic suppression and subjugation of the great masses of the people – the workers. They are thus compelled to work for their capitalist pay, just enough so that they can live on and reproduce more children to become more workers. The rest of the produce, over and above their wages, the capitalists use and divide among themselves.

The whole of capitalist society is organized by capitalism to maintain this system. The educational institutions, the church, the press, the radio, the political parties, of the capitalists, all are directed to keeping the people in subjection, to make them accept the system as natural, as an inevitable, as the only possible form of social existence.

Corruption Is Part of Capitalism

Thus economic subjugation of the people and their intellectual corruption is fundamental to capitalism. Therefore to expect clean politics from filthy capitalism is to look in a garbage pail for pure food. And this corruption, part and parcel of this system, the indispensable weapon the capitalists against the emancipation of the people, Hillman says comes FROM the people. It is their fault. This, the burden of the people, is supposed to be their creation. It makes one feel like spitting. So the workers now not only bear the consequences but must also bear the blame. And this from one of their own leaders and representatives!

One of their representatives? This is exactly where the mischief lies. Hillman, as director of the Political Action Committee, is a politician of the capitalist Democratic Party. He slanders the workers and fouls his own nest because he is playing capitalist politics.

The large majority of the workers in every country want clean government. If some of them seek some petty benefits from petty politicians it is because of the general corruption of the system and their recognition of the fact that all they can hope for from it is a special personal privilege here or there. If Hillman were a leader of a national independent Labor Party he and his fellow fakers would not dare to slander the workers and so shamelessly assist in their further corruption by the system.

For a Party of Labor

What is wanted is a party of the workers with a program for the workers and all the oppressed, a program to reconstruct the entire economic system, to place power in the hands of the workers themselves. The great body of the workers have no interest in political corruption. They are sick of it. They will learn in time that the only remedy is to form their own political organizations and run the government through them.

This shameful capitulation to capitalist ideas, capitalist political practices and capitalist slanders of the workers should make them reflect on the urgent need of the workers to have a party where these things could not possibly take place.

Last updated on 15 December 2015