J.R. Johnson

Business Reporter Laments over Capitalists’
Lack of Confidence in Their Own System

(9 September 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 36, 9 September 1946, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Why should any worker have confidence in the future of the capitalist system? If he has, he shows more confidence than the capitalists themselves, for they are frightened at what this powerful and unmanageable economy may do to them in the near future. While they shout to the workers about the marvelous achievements of American capitalism during the war and the wonderful benefits it holds in the near future (if only the workers will keep quiet), the big capitalists sing a very different tune to one another.

On Sunday, August 25, in its business section, the New York Times published a long article by one Mr. Russell Porter. The very title and sub-title of the article should arrest the attention of every worker:


Who are these defeatists? Revolutionary Socialists? Marxists? Trotskyists? Members and supporters of the Workers Party? Readers of Labor Action? No. It seems that there are other people beside ourselves who distrust the American capitalist system. We learn from Russell Porter that: “Making a survey to see what business and industry were doing about the situation, this reporter found their leaders fully aware of the dangers and working overtime to maintain economic stability.”

And what ate these dangers they are fully aware of? Nothing else but a repetition of the great crash of 1929, or as Porter calls it, the “national catastrophe.” They are, I repeat, terribly frightened. Says the Times reporter:

“For example, the whole reason for being of the Committee for Economic Development is to maintain economic stability.”

That is number one. Now for number two:

“The National Association of Manufacturers is working toward the same objective.”

Number three: “Similar activity is under way in the Chamber of Commerce of the United States.”

Number four: “For the Government, President Truman has an Economic Advisory Council, headed by Dr. Edwin G. Nourse ... to guide the Administration in measures in Congress for the promotion of maximum production and consumption.”

The terror which inspires them all can be seen through the pseudo-optimism which the writer tries to build up. He says:

“The theory of the inevitability of the fall of American capitalism, which, if generally accepted, could create a fatal spirit of defeatism, has an interesting background.”

Just look at those words I have underlined. If the theory is accepted, it could create a “fatal” spirit. This is how these gentlemen talk about their own system. But to go on. “Much of it stems from Karl Marx, but extreme rightists in business, as well as extreme leftists in labor have given it currency from time to time.”

The extreme rightists are the fascists who claim that their system is not capitalism but something else which they never define (except to insist that labor unions must be smashed). The Times goes on to say that Hitler believed in the theory. Stalin now has “returned” to it, and “The British have leaned toward it, but seem to be wavering now ...” One is tempted to ask: “Who then does NOT believe in the theory?”

What Kind of Society?

And what is the solution of “free enterprise” to this danger which everybody it seems can see or al any rate fears. They have none. They have none, because they can have none. How can they have any? The first thing necessary is to free the workers from the degrading, humiliating and exhausting slavery to the capitalist machine. Tens of millions of workers who could contribute their energy, their intelligence, and an improved education to the problems of production, now spend their time either in total enslavement to the capitalist system or in struggle against it? How can the capitalist class accomplish this? The workers alone can emancipate the workers.

We have to plan the economy, plan it in order to produce for use. But, these capitalists are in continuous conflict, always with the workers or with one another, or with capitalists abroad. They breathe disorder, confusion, anarchy, war. Only the whole working class and its allies organized and free of capitalist tyranny, can plan production.

And so with all other problems, large and small. The Negro question has disrupted the material and moral progress of this nation, above all during recent years. It has kept the whole South in bondage to a small clique of exploiters. The capitalists maintain the degradation of the Negro. Their educational system, their radio, their newspapers, all combine to teach the people that domination of the Negro is a necessity. Thus the South in particular remains one of the most backward and unproductive of economic areas. Who can alter that? Capitalism? But capitalism can only live and thrive upon the subordination, the division, the suppression of the working class, and where it cannot entirely suppress all, it suppresses some. Only the power of the workers can change that.

And, lastly, capitalism is a worldwide system. For international cooperation and economic stability we need free and thriving peoples. But today the United States and Russia between them are tearing Europe into two parts. They each back one side in China. The rapacity of these two powers knows no bounds.

How is it possible to avoid devastating economic crises and ware? The workers alone have no interest in imperialism. They alone, through a Workers’ Government, can carry out such a policy abroad as would rebuild the shattered world economy on a new basis, instead of continuing to destroy it on the old.

But all this demands the abolition of the capitalist system. It means using the means of production for society as a whole and not for the profit of a few. That is the socialist society. That is the solution. And all the committees of all the capitalists in the world cannot arrive at any solution, because the only solution is socialism, that is, the abolition of themselves. But, precisely because they cannot see the way out they are ready to try anything, fascism, war, whatever their bankruptcy drives them to. The workers have no reason to submit to any more of their crazy experiments. The thing to do is to help the capitalist class go whither it now belongs – into the rubbish heap of history. We are thankful to learn from the Times of capitalist bankruptcy and fright. It only gives us more confidence and conviction that the time for the power of the workers is long overdue.

Last updated on 8 July 2019