J.R. Johnson

World Events Are of Great Importance
to U.S. Labor

(September 1944)

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 39, 25 September 1944, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for MIA.

In 1933 the American working class was battling with an economic crisis such as had never before struck this rich and prosperous country. Unaccustomed to think in terms of danger to its national existence, the American working, class took little interest in the accession to power of Adolf Hitler in Germany. Two years before, the Japanese imperialists had invaded Manchuria. The event had caused even less excitement among the American workers.

Yet these two happenings were the beginnings of what became a worldwide catastrophe, dragging the whole of humanity into a whirlpool of blood and destruction. The American working class is paying and will continue to pay for the fact that it did not recognize then the true significance of the invasion of Manchuria and the Nazi victory.

The Rulers Knew

The American ruling class, however, knew quite well what was involved. Many of the biggest capitalists, Ford, for example, rejoiced openly at the destruction of the German working class movement by Hitler. Had the U.S. government exerted its influence in Europe, Hitler could have been blown out of existence before he had an army of a quarter of a million men. China could have been supported in an effort to strengthen itself against Japan. But imperialists never fight wars for any purpose except imperialist interests.

The American government was kept informed of all the intrigues in Europe with and against Hitler. It formally expressed sympathy for the Chinese, while American capitalism armed Japan for that war as for the present one. It stood by and saw Ethiopia raped. It joined Britain, France and Stalinist Russia in the blockade and strangulation of the workers of Spain in their fight against the fascist uprising.

Masses Are Rising

Now today after this most dreadful of wars, the European workers are holding up again. Italy is seething with discontent, the French masses have shown once more that the spirit which produced the great French Revolution and the Commune still burns as brightly as ever in France. In every occupied country the masses are ready to fight for their liberation and the creation of a new Europe.

But once more the American ruling class is alive to the situation. Having had to join in the crushing of an imperialist rival which had grown too dangerous, they are, as ever, alert to the necessity of destroying the working class as an independent force in European society. They are as determined as ever to crush the nationalist aspirations of the Oriental peoples. To the Anglo-American ruling classes has been added a formidable ally. Stalinist Russia, trading on the traditions and achievements of the October Revolution, is now at one with Britain and America in the determination to reduce the European workers to submission and impotence in their efforts to carve out their own destiny.

Labor’s Great Interest

The American working class, in its own interest, cannot afford to allow European affairs to be ordered and regulated by the imperialists in the interests of American and other capital. The American proletariat cannot afford to stand by and see the hundreds of millions of Asiatics made once more into milch cows over whom imperialists, Eastern and Western, fight their bloody wars. The American workers must intervene with an independent policy. We failed to intervene in 1933, when this German workers were crushed. We failed to intervene in 1936 to save the Spanish Revolution. See how bitterly we have paid!

Today as the European war begins to draw to a close, the signs are thick in the heavens that the imperialists are using the prestige of victory, the power of their arms, and the power of the productive system AGAINST the working masses of Europe. Darlan, Badoglio, Giraud and then de Gaulle all tell the tale. Stalin, afraid of the Warsaw workers, pushed it into the jaws of the German army and left it to bleed to death or to paralysis.

Let us have no misunderstandings. This is a matter of life and death for us. If the imperialists are left free to recreate the old Europe, economic crisis and political reaction will once more radiate to all corners of the globe. The American workers cannot escape it. Therefore in our own interests we must intervene. We must speak in our own voice, in the voice of organized labor, declaring our solidarity with the struggles for freedom of the European proletariat and the Asiatic peoples.

Workers Must Speak Out

We must denounce the counter-revolution of Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin, and we must denounce it in the voice of American labor, speaking on behalf of the great majority of the American people.

We must organize assistance, assistance to the fighters, relief to the suffering masses, aid to the workers’ organizations. All this we must do in the name of organized labor.

Let us speak and act in our own voice. Let us show the great masses everywhere that there is another America besides the America of Roosevelt, of Dewey, of the financiers and industrialists.

Let us make it clear that there is an America which is the friend of liberty everywhere, that is in complete solidarity with all the oppressed, against all the oppressors everywhere.

Such an America is the organized labor movement of this country,- the greatest in the world. Today it is asserting itself splendidly on the national scene. But as we think of 1933 to the present day, we cannot but see that labor’s independence must be felt on the international scene as well.

This we must do not only for good will and comradeship but from hard necessity and self-protection. The time is ripe. There can be no delay. Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin are in full action for their own aims. Labor must rise to the occasion and challenge their foreign policy with a foreign policy of its own.

Last updated on 15 December 2015