William F. Warde

Wallace and the War Makers

(May 1947)

Source: Fourth International, Vol.8 No.5, May 1947, pp.133-136.
(William F. Warde was a pseudonym of George Novack.)
Transcription/Editing/HTML Markup: 2006 by Einde O’Callaghan.
Public Domain: George Novack Internet Archive 2006; This work is completely free. In any reproduction, we ask that you cite this Internet address and the publishing information above.

Just as a person’s character is often shown by his behavior on minor matters before he is submitted to a major test, so the real nature of a government’s policy may reveal itself in a striking incident long before its full implications are unfolded. This is the case in the furore stirred up by the capitalist press and Wall Street’s representatives in Washington around Henry Wallace’s condemnation of the Truman-Marshall proposals for Greece and Turkey. The extraordinary volume of vituperation let loose upon the former Secretary of Commerce betrays the uneasy conscience of Wall Street’s political representatives in their evil conspiracy to subjugate the world by armed force and drag mankind into the most horrible of imperialist wars.

At first the administration attempted to dismiss Wallace’s criticisms and the capitalist press played down his speeches. President Truman held out an olive branch to the former Vice-President, saying that he had no desire to exclude him from the Democratic Party and predicting that Wallace and his co-thinker, Senator Pepper of Florida, would support the 1948 Democratic ticket.

But no sooner did Wallace go abroad than this silent or “soft” treatment was discontinued. Then, in a concerted campaign, all the wrath of Washington and Wall Street began to descend upon his head. The House Committee on Un-American Activities urged that Wallace be prosecuted under the Logan Act of 1799 for “criminal correspondence with foreign governments ... to defeat the measures of the government of the United States.” This law was enacted when the Federalist-capitalist reaction of an earlier century was seeking to throttle opposition to its contemplated war with France. Others demanded that Wallace’s passport be revoked and Congress censure him.

Senators of both parties took turns in abusing Wallace. Republican Senator Vandenberg referred to him as an “itinerant saboteur” and denounced his appeals to the American and European peoples as “a shocking thing.” Fulbright, the Democratic Senator from Arkansas, declared that: “His speech sounded as though it had been written in the Kremlin.” Washington resounded with cries that Truman publicly repudiate Wallace. In response, Truman’s Attorney-General, Tom Clarke, said in Philadelphia, “Anyone who tells the people of Europe that the United States is committed to ruthless imperialism and war with the Soviet Union tells a lie.” This warlike chorus was rounded out when the prime projector of the current anti-Soviet crusade, Winston Churchill, seized the occasion to call Wallace a friend of the “crypto-Communists.”

What accounts for this violent and hysterical campaign, these frantic and furious efforts to discredit Wallace rather than answer his arguments? What is the meaning of these obviously trumped-up accusations that the former Vice-President is acting like the agent of a foreign power? The vindictiveness of the imperialist spokesmen stems from their fears that Wallace’s attacks will serve to expose their truly monstrous designs. The administration planned to spring its proposals suddenly and speed them through Congress before the American people were aware of their real meaning and opposition could be organized. On the pretext that Britain’s contemplated “withdrawal” created an emergency in Greece, Truman insisted that Congress act before March 31. The whole propaganda machinery was mobilized to whip up an artificial crisis atmosphere.

Growing Mass Opposition

But as the ominous significance of the Truman doctrine and the extent of its commitments to imperialist intervention on a world scale became plainer, wide-spread opposition began to manifest itself. The tremendous uneasiness among the people regarding the Truman policy was indicated by newspaper and radio polls which, despite the deluge of government-inspired propaganda; showed majorities in favor of action through the United Nations.

This mass resistance delayed Senate action on the proposals beyond the deadline fixed by Truman. Even so thorough a reactionary as Republican Senator Albert Hawkes of New Jersey protested to Vandenberg:

“The people of the United States have not had a chance to consider this thing. If the Senator does not believe what I am saying, let him go out through the country and hear what I am hearing.”

The hue and cry against Wallace coincided with this growing pressure of mass opposition on Washington. On April 14 the New York Times cautioned Truman against punishing Wallace because “the principal effect of trying to muzzle Mr. Wallace would be to suggest to many deeply interested foreigners that the United States government has reason to fear what Mr. Wallace is saying.” Indeed, Washington was worried less by repercussions abroad than by the rising resistance at home. It feared that Wallace’s warnings would further arouse the American people against its militarist moves and Wallace himself thus become a rallying point for the vast anti-war sentiment within the country.

The representatives of the rich in the driver’s seat at Washington are in no mood for conciliation. They are determined to sweep aside any and all obstructions to their course of imperialist aggression. They are prepared to stigmatize the mildest critic as a traitor to the country if he does not keep in step with Wall Street. They will stamp anyone who hesitates to line up 100 per cent with their war program as a “red” or a stooge for the “Communists.”

All Wallace asks is a little of that democracy which Truman is supposedly upholding against Russian totalitarianism. But evidently the Truman brand of democracy is for export purposes only; there is to be little left to enjoy at home. Wallace and his associates are now getting a foretaste of the authoritarian terror US Big Business has in store for even the most loyal opposition.

In their march toward war the American plutocracy is striving to create an atmosphere in which the official policy of the capitalist rulers alone will hold sway and all “dangerous thoughts” will be banned. The years preceding World War II witnessed a sharp debate within the ruling circles of American capitalism between the interventionists and isolationists. Today even tactical differences between Truman and Wallace over whether or not American imperialism should use the UN as a cover for its policies cannot be tolerated. Official opinion must be uniform and coordinated as it was under Hitler, the Mikado or Mussolini. The American bourgeoisie feels it can no longer afford the luxury of conflicting views in full sight of the public. This shows how far along the road toward military despotism the mind of Wall Street has already proceeded.

This is the most ominous aspect of the effort to gag Wallace, who was until recently a prominent figure in the government. The incitement against the former Vice-President also shows how far the Democratic Party has swung in an ultra-reactionary direction. Wallace was dumped from Truman’s cabinet when he complained about the first signs of the “get tough with Russia” policy announced by Secretary of State Byrnes at the Paris Conference.

Now, only a few months later, with the unfurling of the Truman-Marshall doctrine, Wallace is being treated as though the nation were on the verge of war with the Soviet Union. He, too, has become a victim of the Big Business-inspired inquisition. His persecution is simply one of the most extreme expressions of the red-baiting drive which is sweeping through the labor movement and over the entire country. The witch-hunt which ostensibly began with the Communist party has widened to embrace any dissident individual, no matter how prominent or loyal to the fundamental interests of capitalism.

This vindictive handling of Wallace underscores the fact that the decisive section of America’s ruling class has resolved to remove anybody blocking their scheme for world subjugation. They want to pillory Wallace as a warning for other objectors to fall into line before they feel the sting of Wall Street’s whips.

What They Really Fear

The imperialists are not incensed, as they pretend, over the fact that Wallace criticized his government in foreign lands. After being booted from office by the British workers, Winston Churchill came to the United States and gave the signal for the crusade against the Soviet Union. President Truman stood by his side in silent approval a year ago at Fulton, Missouri and there were no outcries in the paid press then. It is the policy they champion and the interests they serve that determine Washington’s friendly attitude towards the Tory Churchill, on the one hand, and their hostility towards Wallace, on the other. Churchill, the hardened imperialist butcher, was on the warpath against the “reds.” Wallace must be chastised and excommunicated because he dares question Washington’s mad plunge toward a new world slaughter.

What has Wallace said that so enraged the monopolists and militarists? His comments were in fact rather mild.

He wondered why the administration which claims it cannot intervene to free Spain from Franco is so anxious to act on behalf of the dictatorships in Greece and Turkey. He asked why UNNRA was scuttled if the real purpose of Truman’s proposals was to feed the hungry, not to arm tyranny. He showed how Truman’s imperialist course encouraged fascist-minded elements and strengthened witch-hunting at home. He called for an end to the fake crisis atmosphere in which “facts are withheld, time is denied, hysteria whipped up.” He pointed out how the Truman doctrine could only split the world into two antagonistic power blocs and lead to war between the United States and the Soviet Union.

These points ring true and they have struck responsive chords among the American people who fear atomic war and mistrust the motives behind Truman’s proposals. Wallace proposes that the US government advance its aims through the UN, and not outside it. His position is set forth in the Pepper-Taylor-Blatnick resolution which excludes Turkey and proposes to turn over the problem of aiding Greece to the UN by setting up a $250,000,000 fund for relief and rehabilitation.

This kind of action can obtain readier approval from the people who retain illusions about the UN as a preserver of peace and do not yet understand that this organization is no less an instrument of oppression than the government itself. Wallace and Pepper prefer to route American foreign policy through the UN as a pledge of “Big Three” unity. They want to perpetuate the wartime line of coalition and conciliation with the Kremlin as the best way to benefit business interests and avert a headlong clash with the Soviet Union.

But their policy is outmoded; it no longer conforms to the needs and outlook of America’s ruling class. Now that Germany and Japan have been crushed, the revolutionary threat from the European workers is temporarily forestalled, and the Soviet Union placed on the defensive, Wall Street is proceeding to the next stage in its master plan for world conquest. The period of appeasing Stalin has given way to the phase of tightening encirclement and relentless pressure upon the USSR.

Wall St.’s New Orientation

American Big Business is not today concerned with winning World War II as in the days of Teheran but in setting the stage for World War III. That means it must take the measures required to eliminate the influence of the Kremlin and its agencies as steps toward destroying the nationalized property, the monopoly of foreign trade, and planned economy within the Soviet Union itself.

For these purposes Washington needs vassalized capitalist regimes in Europe and Asia released from Stalinist domination and from direct pressure by the masses. That is why de Gaulle has timed his reentry on the political scene with the proclamation of the Truman doctrine. That is why Washington props up Franco and Salazar, woos Peron, and proposes to subsidize the Turkish and Greece dictatorships as well as Chiang’s blood-soaked tyranny.

The administration does not want to be trammeled by the UN which restricts its freedom of operation. Washington has far more extensive plans for military intervention than it deems expedient to divulge at the moment. The program of world domination implicit in the Truman-Marshall doctrine is being doled out in installments to the American people.

American imperialism is now obliged to discard the mask of pacifism it formerly assumed in world politics for the same reasons that it must abandon the pretense of liberalism at home. Driven by the irresistible urge toward world mastery, Washington must lean upon the most counter-revolutionary forces, ride roughshod over all opposition, and press forward

by brute force on all fronts. That is why the Senators repeat in the spirit of the Roman Cato: “Communism must be destroyed.” And that is why Wallace has become so hateful in their eyes.

As the outstanding representative of the forlorn New Deal Democrats, Wallace still imagines himself to be in the vanguard of progress. But from the standpoint of the capitalist policy-makers he is an anachronism who straggles behind the march of events. The unabashed pirates in charge of the ship of state these days have little use for the services of New Deal reformers and dreamers. For their predatory plans they need ruthless men and methods: militarists who know how to push through schemes for plunder and subjugation abroad and men of the trusts to promote their undemocratic and anti-labor activities at home.

But Wallace, protest his supporters, is the genuine inheritor of Roosevelt’s mantle; Truman is an imposter who became President by accident and then betrayed the Roosevelt tradition. This is the favorite theme of the Stalinists who cling for salvation to Wallace’s trousers and clamor for a return to the Big Three Unity policy of FDR.

Wallace, however, can lay claim only to one part of Roosevelt’s heritage. It must be remembered that Roosevelt not only collaborated with Moscow; he was also ready to break off relations and support war against Russia at the time of the Soviet-Finnish war in 1939-1940. Roosevelt dealt with the Kremlin as it suited the aims of Wall Street’s foreign policy at the given stage. In this sense it is Truman, and not Wallace, who is today carrying forward the Roosevelt tradition.

The whole wisdom of the liberals, the union bureaucrats and the Stalinists consists in deciding which representatives of the capitalist class they and the workers should follow. On this score they are now split. One section, organized around the Americans for Democratic Action and influenced by the Social Democrats, has lined up behind Truman. The other grouping, centered around the Progressive Citizens of America and backed by the Stalinists, pins its hopes upon Wallace and Pepper. (For symmetry, both have a member of the Roosevelt family for adornment, the first has Eleanor and the second has Elliot.)

Despite their differences, both of these camps agree that American workers have no alternative but to place their trust in one or the other of these sets of capitalist politicians.

Dangerous Demagogues

Let us see how much Senator Pepper can be relied upon to fight against the war danger. He has no fundamental disagreement with Truman’s aims; he merely prefers to see them realized through the UN. He said as much during the Senate debates.

“No man on this floor has shown better than the Senator from Florida,” he remarked in self-justification, “in those two speeches in saying he would vote and do what he could to resist Russian aggression, and if it takes arms to do it through the United Nations he would support that objective in every possible way.”

Caught between his loyalty to the plutocracy and the pressure of the people, Pepper has wobbled on this question. At first he stated that he intended to vote for Truman’s proposals, and then announced that he would vote against. This is the vacillating savior Wallace suggests as the Liberal leader of the “third party.” Pepper himself was the quickest to reject this proposition. “I have no idea of getting out of the Democratic Party,” he responded. “We Democrats differ with each other sometimes in primaries but we don’t leave the ancestral home.” Thus, at bottom, nothing more is involved in the differences between Truman and Pepper than a division of labor in deceiving the people, a family quarrel among fellow-Democrats which can be easily patched up.

Is Henry Wallace perhaps made of sterner stuff? On April 18 in a Stockholm interview he gave an apt description of himself:

“I am not a Communist. I am not a Socialist. I am only an American capitalist – or as I told the House of Parliament in London – I am a Progressive Tory who believes it is absolutely essential to have peace and understanding with Russia.”

It should also be added, however, that Wallace has zealously served Big Business for many years as Secretary of Agriculture, Vice-President, and Secretary of Commerce. He remains a staunch supporter of capitalism and its military machine as well as a member of the Democratic Party. For the time being, this millionaire has certain disagreements with the principal leaders of US imperialism over the best means of coping with the problem of the Soviet Union. But these differences are only tactical and transitory. When the international situation becomes more critical, Wallace will turn up at the side of the Wall Street war-mongers, as he did throughout World War II.

His actual role is that of a dangerous demagogue, whose chief aim is to lull and deceive the masses by dangling an “alternative” course before them, while the war program is pursued unrelentingly.

None of these capitalist politicians can be depended upon in the fight against US imperialism and its war program. When the squeeze comes, they will inevitably betray the interests of the people, desert the anti-war forces, and go over to the war camp. Pepper’s vacillations show what can be expected in the future from these demagogues who exploit the honest anti-war feelings of the masses.

The struggle against the war danger is inseparable from irreconcilable struggle to get rid of the imperialist power at Washington which breeds war and profits from it. People like Wallace and Pepper who preach confidence in capitalism and its agencies can only lead the anti-war struggle to disaster. Only those who combat Big Business rule with a program of revolutionary socialist action can provide the American workers with the leadership they need in the fight against Wall Streets war plans.


Last updated on: 29 March 2023