J.R. Johnson

Wallace’s Program and the Fight Against Monopoly

(16 February 1948)

Source: The Militant, Vol. 12 No. 7, 16 February 1948, p. 2.
Source: PDF supplied by the Riazanov Library Project.
Transcription/Mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

In the weekly articles he is writing for the New Republic, Henry Wallace is taking great pains to present his party as representative of the American tradition.

This is not due to any literary quirk of Wallace. When a nation faces a historical turning-point in its development, it becomes deeply conscious of its origins, and the relations of its present perspectives to the achievements and promises of its past. The “Freedom Train” is a desperate attempt to cover the black reaction of the present with the glory of America’s past, the days when Washington and Jefferson, Franklin and Tom Paine made America the vanguard of liberty and democracy in a world ridden with feudalism, aristocracy and absolute monarchy.

Wallace claims as his spiritual ancestor the Republican Party. According to Wallace the Republican Party of 1856 was a third party. He enumerates its great achievements and then claims that his third party is in the same tradition.

The claim is fraudulent. The Republican Party of 1860 led a revolution. It began in the agitation to keep Kansas and the Western lands free from chattel slavery. It told the Southern plantation-owners: thus far and no farther. It fought to save the Union. Driven by events, it mobilized the North and struck a mortal blow at the economic system of chattel slavery.

Destroyed Its Enemy

In its revolutionary days, the Republican Party was one of the great political organizations of history. This is the party that Wallace claims as the ancestor of his pitiful little program.

The Republican Party of those days destroyed its enemy. What does Wallace proclaim as the enemy of today? Monopoly. A “relative handful of wealthy men.” Industrial and financial giants, he says, control both parties. Wallace does not speak from book-knowledge. He has seen monopoly at work. “I had to sit in the Chair of Herbert Hoover and Jesse Jones, as Secretary of Commerce, really to understand the machinations of these key giants.”

What then does Wallace propose? Monopoly is the enemy. Shall we therefore form a party to abolish monopoly? No. Wallace wants to ensure the election of “many excellent progressives within the Democratic Party – a few members of Congress and hundreds of local and state officials.” So the monopoly which controls the United States and half the world, is to be shaken by electing a few progressive Democrats and hundreds of state and local officials.

Wallace claims that third parties have always fought monopoly, and refers to LaFollette’s third party in 1924. This reference is not very encouraging. LaFollette’s program began as follows: “The great issue before the American people today is the control of government and industry by private monopoly.” And what was LaFollette’s solution? To make the private monopolies public property? God forbid. He promised “A complete housecleaning in the Department of Justice, the Department of the Interior, and the other executive departments.”

After LaFollette polled nearly five million votes, his party disappeared, and the monopolies spread their tentacles under Calvin Coolidge until they plunged the country into the great depression of 1929.

But Wallace is irrepressible. He includes among his ancestors even Woodrow Wilson, and of course, Franklin Roosevelt. They, too, fought monopoly, says Wallace. And now comes the pay-off. Woodrow Wilson denounced monopoly. And what happened? The result was the precise situation which gave rise to the despairing appeal of LaFollette in 1924, in the very first election after Wilson’s defeat.

Conclusion Is Obvious

Wallace himself helped Franklin Roosevelt fight monopoly. The result is that Wallace, in the first election after Roosevelt’s death, has to admit that monopoly is stronger today than ever before. The conclusion should be obvious: All struggles against monopoly which do not aim at destroying monopoly end in the increased power of monopoly.

But Wallace’s contradictions and confusion do not end there. He poses as the man of peace. His third party is to be the party of peace. But take another glance at these ancestors of his! Woodrow Wilson, enemy of monopoly, and friend of the people, ended by leading the country into war and bigger monopolies. Franklin Roosevelt, enemy of monopoly and friend of the people, climaxed his politics by leading the country into a bigger war, with the power of monopoly greater than ever before. This is the tradition to which Wallace appeals. It does not help Wallace. It discredits him.

But isn’t there an American revolutionary tradition? There is. Washington and Jefferson destroyed the economic and political power of British mercantile imperialism in the Western World. Lincoln and the Republican Party crushed the economic and political power of the Southern slave-owners. They each in their day overthrew outworn economic and political systems.

The continuance of the American tradition today demands the destruction of the economic and political power of monopoly.

Last updated on 8 October 2020