J.R. Johnson

One-Tenth of the Nation

(23 September 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 38, 23 September 1946, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The capitalist press is disproving Marxism again. It has now proved that lynchers are backward farmers without education. When the news spread of the murder of the two Negro couples in Walton County, Georgia, two New York papers sent reporters to the area. These papers, according to the New York Times, “cannot be suspected of sympathy with the vested interests.”

What did they find that made the anti-Marxists in the Times so happy? They found that the farmers in the outlying areas were satisfied with the lynchings. But in the county town Monroe (4,500 people) the population was shocked, and a group of businessmen passed an anti-lynching resolution. Furthermore, Monroe voted heavily against Governor Talmadge, the anti-Negro maniac. But Walton County farmers voted heavily for Talmadge.

Reporter Turns Profound

You should see the song and dance performed by the Times columnist on these facts. Here is a sample:

“Catchwords and formulas die hard, and it is not to be expected that Vested Interests and Big Business as the twin-devils responsible for most of the world’s ills over so many years will be an exception.”

He then makes a big jump. War, he says, is not caused by “international bankers and armament manufacturers eager for profits.” What causes war? Passions. Bad, deep, wild, ferocious passions and hatreds “that cannot be explained in Marxian terms of a decaying capitalism in defensive alliance with a doomed imperialism.”

He tells us that there are human passions and prejudices whose roots go “far, far back into a pre-capitalist past.” And he ends with gentle pity for those Marxian idiots who “still explain Hitler or the Ku Klux Klan by the Vested Interests operating under cover.”

One Little Omission

There is just one little omission in this article. It forgot to mention that to Big Business and Vested Interests the Marxists usually add the capitalist press. For if ever there was a clear case of the alliance between the imperialist war-mongers abroad, the racehaters at home, and their hired lackeys of the press, this is one.

First of all, who educates these backward whites? Congress educates them. The President educates them. The Times educates them. If not directly, then indirectly through a thousand subordinate channels, the ideas of Congress, of the Administration, of the great newspapers, permeate down to the people. Now do these backward Southerners’ hear from Congress a unanimous condemnation of all anti-Negro actions?

Do they see Congress expel Bilbo? Do they hear that Bilbo and his Southern colleagues are out-voted by all the congressmen who do not come from the South? Do they see Congress passing anti-lynch or anti-poll-tax bills? No, instead they hear from Bilbo and Talmadge and the rest that they win great victories in Congress. Do they hear the educated part of the nation clamoring for action against lynching? No. They see instead a veiled acquiescence, a shrugging of the shoulders at best. These people are as they are because vested interests, including the Times, are quite satisfied with things as they are.

This Times scribbler thinks that by vested interests Marxists mean some small traders in Monroe (population 4,500). How ridiculous! We mean the banks that control Southern industry and the cotton plantations. We mean the leaders of the Democratic and Republican Parties who between them have left the Negro where he has been for seventy-five years. WE MEAN THE WHOLE ROTTEN SYSTEM AND THOSE WHO PROFIT BY IT, AND DO EVERYTHING TO MAINTAIN IT.

How is this argument falsified or weakened by the fact that some businessmen in Monroe (population 4,500) passed an anti-lynching resolution and were horrified at the lynching? The Times scribbler, by defending these methods, himself makes excuses for the source of lynching. He tries to place the responsibility on some mysterious pre-capitalist passions and thereby does not place the responsibility where it belongs. He assists in the miseducation of the people. He is a hired lackey.

Scribblers Do Their Part

It is not surprising to find him defending the imperialists and their wars. The British wish to maintain their empire. German imperialism wanted to take it away from them. What then is the mysterious precapitalist passion that caused these two empires to fight it out twice in thirty years?

The U.S. could not afford to see Germany dominate Europe. It fought Germany in 1917. It fought Germany again in 1941. It will possibly fight Russia in the future. The Japanese wanted to have an empire of their own. The U.S. could not afford to see them take over Eastern Asia. Even Wallace now tells Russia: You have your sphere of influence and leave ours alone. Where is the mysterious pre-capitalist passion?

It is a crude naked struggle for economic power, raw materials, spheres of influence, strategic areas. And this lackey tries to make out that it is some dark, mysterious passion in the hearts of men that drives them to war.

He serves the vested interests as their apologist and defender. He covers up the truth from the people. He helps to perpetuate the system and its crimes.

The Negroes should note that the same reactionary interests and ideas which confuse the people about lynching are the same which confuse the people about war. The enemy is the same – vested interests, capitalism, and there will never be peace, freedom, equality, justice, until the SYSTEM is swept away.

With it will go the petty scribblers whose function it is to write stupid columns about Marxism under the heading Topics of the Times.

Last updated on 8 July 2019