J. Meyer

Answer Shows What Powell and Wallace Really Stand For

(28 March 1949)

Source: The Militant, Vol. 13 No. 13, 28 March 1949, p. 3.
Source: PDF supplied by the Riazanov Library Project.
Transcription/Mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The central argument of E. Banks is simple. Inasmuch as Congressman Powell, Congressman Marcantonio and Henry Wallace are fighting actively on behalf of the Negro, why should the Trotskyists “denounce” and “slander” them?

To begin with, the Trotskyists do not slander anyone. But "denounce” them we certainly do, and our central argument is as simple as Banks. We believe and we can show that the total effect of the political activities of people like Powell, Marcantonio and Wallace is harmful to the Negro people.

For proof, take the present situation of civil rights. A substantial majority of the people in the United States today are ready to support civil rights bills for Negroes. But Congress, Democrats, Republicans and the Truman administration are playing politics with civil rights and the filibuster. Congress and the Roosevelt administration did the same. The Chicago Defender, the Amsterdam News, and the Pittsburgh Courier, the NAACP and Walter White are now bitterly bewailing the fact that the Negro people have been betrayed once more.

Now the Trotskyists say this: that any politician who claims to represent the Negro people and the masses and does not tell them openly and bluntly that this capitalist Congress and the capitalist administration are playing politics with Negro rights and will always play politics with Negro rights, is a misleader of the people, and we shall denounce him as such, day in or day out.

In fact, the more loudly he shouts, the more often he gets a little school-bill passed here, or a bill on bus-traffic passed there, the more dangerous he is. He gets more prestige, and therefore is more able to fool the people about fundamental things.

The Democratic Party, the Republican Party, the Truman Administration are out to fool the Negroes and any politician who does not make that clear is fooling the Negroes too.

Powell and Truman

But, Mr. Banks may point out, Vito Marcantonio and Henry Wallace said that very thing in the last election and sought votes for a new party. Mr. Banks can’t have it both ways. If Vito Marcantonio and Henry Wallace are right because they say that the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are fooling the Negroes, then he has got to “denounce” Congressman Powell. For either Congressman Powell does not know that the Democratic Party and President Truman are fooling the people, and if this is so he is unfit to represent the Negro masses; or else Congressman Powell knows this and does not say so, which means that he is equally unfit to represent the Negroes, in Harlem or anywhere.

Vital War Question

Now about Congressman Marcantonio and Henry Wallace. Where do they stand on a vital question such as war? Mr. Banks writes as a man acquainted with radical politics. He must know Vito Marcantonio is a stooge of the Communist Party ’and the Kremlin. When Hitler and Stalin were allies in the last war, Marcantonio denounced Britain and the United States as imperialist and tried to stir up the American masses against the government. As soon as Hitler attacked Stalin, Marcantonio changed and denounced all who opposed the War. Now today Marcantonio is once more denouncing American imperialism because it is mobilizing for war against the Soviet Union. Wallace, on the other hand, denounces American imperialism but he says that if and when the war begins he will be on the side of American imperialism. Where do you stand, Mr. Banks?

We can tell you where we stand: we denounce American imperialism, and we say that any war upon which it enters is a reactionary war, helping to destroy civilization and bringing torment and ruin to tens of millions. And all who say otherwise we denounce. You say that only a small section of the people have any understanding in politics and economics. We don’t think you are correct, but at any rate, if that is, so, then the first thing is to tell them the truth about things like war and denounce those who tell them otherwise. That is what the Trotskyists do.

What We Denounce

This we learned from Lenin. First things come first. The capitalist system must be replaced by socialism. Imperialist wars must be opposed. Eighteen of our leaders went to jail for this during the last war. These capitalist parties must be replaced by a great mass party of the workers, the small farmers and sharecroppers, the Negroes, the white collar workers, the youth. The workers must lead it. Such a party can put an end to these interminable wars, guarantee workers’ rights, Negro rights. And who ever tries to tell workers and Negroes that they will get their rights otherwise we denounce as a fool or a faker. That is Trotskyism.

That is not all we say. Trotskyists support a federal anti-lynching bill, we support a national FEPC, we are for the abolition of Jim Crow, root and branch, we are for the abolition of Taft-Hartley, Whoever is seriously fighting for these things, with them we will fight, whether they agree with us on fundamentals or not. As a regular reader of our paper, Mr. Banks knows that. But the Trotskyists will denounce and combat all who write and speak lies and nonsense about fundamental questions, such as war, or tell the people that Congress and the Truman administration will abolish Jim Crow. That is where we stand, Mr. Banks. Where do you stand?


J. Meyer,
New York, N.Y.


Last updated on: 1 March 2024