J.R. Johnson

One-Tenth of the Nation

Balance Sheet of the War

(June 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 24, 11 June 1945, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

(Continued from last issue)

At present a bill for a permanent FEPC is being considered by Congress. Whether it will be passed or not and what form it will take depends to a substantial degree upon the mass agitation which is carried out by the Negro people. Not only will this have its effect on Congressmen and the government, who are in deadly fear of race riots, but the Negro agitation will stimulate the labor movement to do what it did in New York – add its social weight and political prestige to this forward movement of the Negro people.

This agitation for legislation against discrimination is of the greatest political significance, whatever may be the actual results achieved. The Negro people, in harmony with the general social movement of our time, have instinctively recognized that the road to their emancipation leads them not only to the labor movement but also against the capitalist state. They are calling upon the government to redress their wrongs.

But the government is not an abstraction. It is a government of the Democratic Party or, possibly, a government of the Republican Party. There have been many signs during the past year that the Negro people are profoundly skeptical of the intention of both these parties in relation to the Negro question. Yet for seventy-five years one or the other party has been the governing body of the country.

Negroes should ask themselves if labor so far has proved itself our greatest ally, and if we are looking to government to redress our wrongs, why shouldn’t we draw these ideas to their logical conclusion and call upon labor to form a labor government – more precisely, a government of the workers?

Negroes and Government

The Negroes are seeking government legislation to prohibit racial discrimination. What better government to do this than a workers’ government?

Within the last few months the Negro struggle against discrimination in the Army has seen the Negro Seabees and four Negro WACS fight and win magnificent victories. They showed the determination to resist and focussed the attention of the whole of the United States and of the U.S. Army all over the world upon the Negro struggle. But here we are now facing again a struggle over the hundred Negro officers in Indiana who have refused to submit to Jim Crow in the Army.

How long is this to go on? Instead of the continuous, exhausting, piece-by-piece protests to the capitalist government, isn’t it time to consider another solution – changing the type of government altogether?

A Labor Government

The only government which could change the present Jim Crow status of the Negro in the Army and in every other sphere is a government representative of the working class, a government which will carry over into public administration and public legislation the racial solidarity established and learned in the production process itself.

If the Negroes think over their past history, during the last ten years in particular, they will see this as the perspective of the future which offers them a road out of the tortures, trials and disappointments of centuries.

From the purely Negro point of view, this is so. But in social life there can be no purely Negro point of view. The Negro question is a subordinate part of American society. It is what happens to American society that is decisive for the Negro people and not vice versa. The Negro people know that upon the employment question hangs their future.

If there is a great depression after the war they will not only lose their gains in industry. The racial conflicts will in all probability be intensified because union solidarity will be endangered.

For the Negroes, therefore, the question of a program for “full employment” is a matter of vital necessity.

Full Employment

Now here again what prospect of full employment does the Truman government offer? It has ho plan. It can have none. What Roosevelt could not do, Truman cannot do. Even the New Deal was acknowledged to be dead by the man who organized it.

There is only one way to full employment. The way is a drastic reorganization of the entire economic structure, planning for peace as systematically and energetically as the capitalists planned for their war. But who will do this? The Truman government? The mere thought is ridiculous. A government of Dewey? Equally ridiculous. Only one type of government can do it – a government of the workers’ own representatives, leading the working class and the great majority of the people along the road to a new society – socialism.

Last updated on 8 June 2016