Hoover Advises Labor

Workers’ United Front vs. “Optimistic” Pledges!

(October 1930)

From The Militant, Vol. III, No. 31, 1 October 1930, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

President Hoover has given his reply to the needs of the unemployed workers in his speech at the bankers’ convention in Cleveland. With a characteristic genius for insight, he disclosed the fact that what was wrong with many people was ... the reduction of their incomes. And how had their incomes been reduced. The answer of the Great Engineer is:

“The income of a large part of our people is not reduced by the depression but it is affected by unnecessary fears and pessimism, the result of which is to slacken the consumption of goods and discourage enterprise.”

It is the proper answer from the highest official representative of the capitalist class to the workers whose wages are being cut and hours of work lengthened, to the unemployed who are starving and being evicted. The reason for the “slackening in the consumption of goods” is that the working class is “affected by unnecessary fears”. The workers do not buy food and clothing, they do not – cannot! – pay their rent because ... they are pessimistic.

Surely, it was worth while electing Hoover to the presidency in order to have this brilliant analysis of the present state of affairs, and get such soothing assurances for a working class driven desperate by the sharpening crisis.

Hoover and Wage Cuts

Hoover’s speech to the workers was a campaign speech, made at a time when the Republicans, the “party of prosperity”, is being hard pressed by its political opponents. Misery is spreading among the workers and farmers of the country like a prairie fire. The coming winter looks bleak in more than one sense. An intensive wage-cutting campaign is being conducted throughout the land, actively instigated by business men and bankers, passively accepted by the capitalistic labor leaders. At the very same bankers’ convention, John W. Barton, president of the national bank division of the American Bankers Association, declared that “the standard of living in America is too high” and advocated carving another pound of flesh from the bodies of the working class.

But this is an important election year, so Hoover, with the arch-hypocrisy of an Uriah Heep, “emphatically disagreed”. But what is Hoover doing to call a halt to the wage-cutting drive? Not a thing. And for cause, since he is the chairman of the capitalist class executive committee in Washington, the menial of the bankers and business men. All the “solemn pledges to maintain wage standards” have dissolved before the offensive of the bosses. No less loyal a footman of American capitalism than William Green of the A.F. of L, must publicly “regret” the increasing wage cuts, which, according to his excessively moderate figures, affected 24,700 workers in August “and cuts averaged 10.5 percent – the highest yet”.

The same question can be put to Green as to Hoover. The answer is that this lackey without livery is working in the labor movement with might and main to prevent; or crush the spirit of resistance rising among the workers. The Greens serve the masters of the land as effectively as the Hoovers – each in their own allotted way.

Two Servitors of Capitalism

Green denounces the Communists, organizes pogroms against them in the trade unions, serves as informer against them to the courts of capitalism. Hoover speaks to the bankers in Cleveland on the “depression”, while victims of this “depression” demonstrating in the streets for bread or work, are clubbed and bombed by Hoover’s police. French royalty sarcastically told the people to eat cake if they could buy no bread. Hoover tells the people to be courageous and optimistic while they are on the rack of unemployment.

It is correct – but not as Hoover means it. The workers need to be bold and confident! – bold enough to act decisively and confident that united action will bring them relief from the torments of the crisis. Why are the workers embittered but passive today? Why do they not enter in masses into open struggle against the masters of industry and finance? Because they fear defeats which disunity and lack of organization and leadership bring in their train. The pressure of the crisis is driving tens and hundreds of thousands to the ideas and moods of struggle. What is imperatively required is a leadership that will give the movement a head and direct its energies profitably. Such a leadership properly belongs to the Communists, who alone represent the present and future of labor. But the Communists will establish. themselves as leaders of the masses only if they can convince the masses of non-Communist workers that they are fighting for one militant line of struggle – FOR THE UNITED FRONT!

The United Labor Front

The slogan for the united front of labor to resist the offensive of the capitalists and ameliorate the lot of the jobless, combined with a minimum program of demands for which the workers can fight (and not merely cast a vote for in November) – that is the need of the moment. That is what will set masses of workers into motion under the guidance of class conscious and far-sighted leaders. But it is precisely here that the leadership of the Communist Party has failed so miserably. Their stubborn, gross mistakes, their piling of blunder upon blunder, their capers and lunges from frigid sectarianism to the open opportunism in the election campaign – in a word, the overbrimming cup of the “third period” – threaten to lose an unprecedented opportunity for the Communist movement.

The Browders, Bedachts, Hathaways and all the lesser Harrison Georges are dealing blow after blow at the very vitals of the movement under the impulsion of the international Stalinist machine which has tossed them to the surface for a brief moment. The Communist workers in the ranks – within and outside the Party – must ward off these blows. The quicker this is done and the whole camorra of Stalinist leaders put where they properly belong the quicker the Communist movement is restored, the quicker the working class will be mobilized to fight in united ranks.

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