J.R. Johnson

The Communists Oppose, We’re for

Socialism versus Free Enterprise

(December 1944)

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 52, 25 December 1944, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for MIA.

The capitalists of Europe are in a mess. They have lost faith in their own system. For decades they have fought working class efforts to institute a new socialist order in place of the chaos, the fascism and the imperialist wars of capitalism. But now, says a New York Times foreign correspondent, “an influential body of opinion in Great Britain” believes that private enterprise can no longer be depended upon to organize the economy of Europe after the war. Socialism, they say, is inevitable, “even if it is unwanted.”

The kind of socialism that these capitalists envisage is not what the Workers Party means by socialism. Not at all. What the capitalists mean is that the capitalist governments, their own states, will have to make themselves responsible for the organization of production. The workers will remain just where they are – sweating in the factories and in the fields and piling up the profits for their masters. Their sudden recognition of the “inevitability of socialism” is only a maneuver to fool the working class. But that they have to adopt so dangerous a maneuver shows the demoralization to which the decay of their system has reduced them.

“Free Enterprise” in the U.S.

In the United States, however, the decay and the destruction have not reached so far. Our capitalists feel strong enough to continue shouting about “free enterprise.” Only last week the National Association of Manufacturers issued a manifesto which was a long sermon on the benefits of this very “free enterprise.”

Therefore, when an “influential body of opinion in Great Britain” so openly states its belief that “free enterprise” will no longer work in Europe, their brother capitalists in America are horrified. Millions of American workers are very skeptical of this “free enterprise” business. Free enterprise landed them in the great depression of 1929. Free enterprise could only continue to exist by vast quantities of government spending. But free enterprise plus government spending could not reduce the unemployed to less than ten million in 1939.

Furthermore, many workers have an obstinate suspicion that it is free enterprise which landed them in a Second Imperialist World War, that free enterprise will lead the United States into another terrible depression after this war and that unless this free enterprise is controlled or abolished in some form or other it will inevitably lead to a Third World War. Look at the post-war program of the CIO and you will see the scant respect the workers have for free enterprise.

Acutely aware of this, the New York Times took it upon itself to show that this “influential body of opinion in Great Britain” which believes in the “inevitability of socialism” (its own kind of socialism, to be sure) was hopelessly wrong.

The Times Laments

In an editorial (Sunday, November 26). the Times lists the arguments of these demoralized capitalists. Russia, they say, is a completely socialized country, and Russia has done very well in the war. (You see, for them, Russia, with its toiling workers, is socialism.) Britain, they say, has accumulated so many debts and lost so much trade that nothing but “controlled collective action over a long-term of years can put her on her feet.” As for Europe, the Nazis and their collaborators have so confused private and public ownership, and the feeling, against “mines and factories owned by traitors” is so strong that the only solution is confiscation by the state.

We are not very much concerned with what the Times has to say against this. We wish only to refer to one sentence. It deserves a paragraph to itself.

“Even if we grant all this, it does not follow that government ownership or operation in these cases need be permanent.”

A most remarkable admission!

The demoralization is not only British and European, but American as well! The Times admits that Europe may have to go through some such stage and can only console itself and its American capitalist supporters with: “Cheer up – it won’t be for long.”

Now here is a matter of some satisfaction to real socialists. Here we can show the workers that even the capitalists themselves, on both sides of the water are worried about the future of their precious and beloved “free enterprise” in the important continent of Europe. We can point out that when the capitalists themselves begin to be doubtful of the system of private property, it is time for American workers to organize themselves into a Labor Party for the purpose of destroying that private property.

New Capitalist Defenders

But capitalism, viewed critically by both workers and capitalists, now finds passionate new defenders. These defenders ask the capitalists to have “more faith.” The scared capitalists are assured that capitalism is not in such a bad way as they think. This dying, rotting monster can be rejuvenated if only the capitalists will listen.

And who are these defenders? No less than the Communist Party of the United States. Robert Minor replies to the Times article in the Daily Worker of December 1. Nothing but his own words are sufficient.

According to Minor, the “salient point raised by the Times” is:

“Whether the people of Europe will accept the continuation of the capitalist system when the war is over.”

Communist Minor replies:

“On a world scale the Timeswould be justified in having in this matter a confidence somewhat firmer than its question-mark editorial manifests.”

Of course, of course, socialism is more efficient than capitalism. And, of course, socialism, Minor “thinks”, is inevitable for the whole world. The Communist Party always puts that in. But all this is relegated to another epoch. Meanwhile:

“I repeat,” says he, “that the Times could afford a firmer and more assured faith in capitalism.”

After some more arguments, he comes back to the point that “the Times has more justification than it has asserted for confidence in a continued vitality of capitalism.”

There are times when even indignation fails. Stalin’s “Communist” International in Russia and elsewhere has trampled upon the Russian Revolution and reduced the Russian workers from their proud place at the head of the Russian state to the most miserably oppressed people in Europe. In Germany and in France it led the revolutionary workers to demoralization and defeat. In Spain it stabbed the revolution in the back. It used all its influence to lead the workers of Europe behind their capitalists into the imperialist war. It helped to organize the resistance movement only when such action suited the foreign policy of Stalinist Russia. In Europe now it is exercising every ounce of its energy to preserve capitalism. In the United States today it strives with might and main to keep the workers bound to the Roosevelt war machine.

These are crimes infinitely greater than an article asking the capitalists to have “more faith” in capitalism. And yet, at the same time, it is an apparently insignificant article like this which lights up Communist Party policy and can bring home to thousands of their own party members and millions of American workers the real, the deliberate treachery of their masquerade as leaders of the workers’ struggles.

Enemies of the People

These people are more capitalistic than the capitalists themselves. Here in this article they give notice that they will stop at nothing to maintain the capitalist system. This means that capitalism has inside the working class a well organized, conscious, determined and unscrupulous ally in its unceasing struggle against the working class and society. Capitalism can continue only by beating down the workers’ movement. The communists, following the foreign policy of the Stalinist bureaucracy, are out to maintain capitalism and will therefore, in their own way, hold the workers in check and, if necessary, from inside, smash them down.

The Workers Party is a party of revolutionary socialism. The Workers Party believes in the organization of the working class for the overthrow of capitalist society as the only cure for the crimes of capitalism. The Workers Party recognizes the signs of confusion and demoralization among the capitalists. But it greets them as a means for the further encouragement of the American working class in its growing recognition of the necessity of organizing its own party in order to wipe capitalism off the face of the earth.

And for this reason we shall every day and everywhere and on all possible occasions carry on the most relentless struggle against these renegade reptiles who use the name communist and the traditions of the Russian Revolution to prop up the system which communism was founded to destroy.

Last updated on 17 February 2016