Max Shachtman

May Day 1940

Against Both War Camps –
For The Camp Of World Labor!

Third Camp Unites Workers, Colonial People Against War

(May 1940)

From Labor Action, Preview Number, May Day 1940, pp 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.


May Day, first established by the labor movement of this country more than fifty years ago, is the holiday of the workers in every part of the world.

May Day, 1940, has been turned into a black day for labor by the rulers of the world.

Less than twenty years after a “peace treaty” was signed to put an end to the last world war, the majority of the population of the world has been plunged into the Second World War. Equipped with the most modern inventions of mass slaughter, the armies of the big powers are again marching on every continent on the globe. Land and sea and skies are black with the machines of murder.

Unless the workers and the colonial peoples of the world, who have the biggest army and strength, step in to put an end to the Second World War in their own way, every last shred of freedom and security for the peoples will be wiped out by the plague of war, all civilization will he wiped out. and what is left of humanity will be reduced to a new and barbaric slavery.

Two big rival camps are at each other’s throats in the war. The peoples of the countries at war have no quarrel with each other. Their interests lie in friendship, peace and cooperation with each other. Yet millions have already been mobilized for the trenches by means of force and falsehoods. to serve as cannon-fodder in the mutual massacre of the peoples.

The ruling classes of England and France LIE when they say that they are fighting for a noble and righteous cause. They LIE when they say they arc fighting for Democracy and against Fascism, for the independence and integrity of small nations and against foreign oppression.

The American ruling class LIES when it says it is supporting the London-Paris axis for the same reasons.

England and France are and have been the savage, ruthless oppressor of almost half the world for centuries. They are no respecters of the national independence of small countries. They rule with aerial bombs and fire and sword over the hundreds of millions of slaves in their Empires. The peoples of India and Indo-China, of Ireland and Morocco, of South Africa and Syria – they know that Anglo-French “democracy” is a terror and torment of imperialist exploitation and tyranny not one bit better than the terror and tyranny of Hitlerism. The entire world knows that England and France helped Hitlerism come to power and arm for the war.

Both War Camps Lie!

The ruling class in Germany, and its allies Stalin and Mussolini, LIE when they say that they are fighting for a noble and righteous cause. They LIE when they say that Germany is fighting against unjust peace treaties, against the Plutocratic Empires which oppress the world, for the freedom of the seas.

The Stalinist bureaucracy LIES when it says it is fighting for the defense of the Soviet Union and the achievements of the great Russian Revolution.

Hitler has destroyed all freedom in Germany. He seeks to put an end to the world oppression of England and France in order to replace it with the world oppression of Germany. He has put an end to the infamous Versailles Treaty in order to impose even more infamous “peace treaties” on Poland, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Scandinavia. He aims to replace Anglo-French despotism by German despotism, the British imperialist whip by the German imperialist whip.

The Stalinist regime has been systematically destroying the achievements of the heroic Russian masses who rose in revolution against exploitation and oppression in November, 1917. It has replaced working-class freedom by bureaucratic autocracy. It has undermined and corrupted the revolutionary and labor movements throughout the world and betrayed every great principle of international labor. It conies to other lands not to bring liberty but to impose upon the workers and peasants the same slavery they suffer from in the Soviet Union today. It is allied with Germany not to defend the Russian Revolution, but to promote the interests of the rotten Kremlin bureaucracy and to promote the interests of German imperialism. The Russian Revolution can be saved only by overthrowing this rotten bureaucracy and replacing it with true workers’ democracy.

The Only Way Out: The Third Camp!

The masses of the people can find a way out of the horrors of the Second World War only under the banner of the Third Camp!

The Third Camp has nothing in common with the two imperialist war camps – it is their deadly enemy.

The Third Camp is the camp of the workers in factory and field, in mine and on railroad. It is the camp of the slaves of all colors who yearn and fight for their independence from imperialism. It is the camp of labor, fighting against the profit-lusting employers. It is the camp of labor fighting against the governments of the employers. It is the camp of the peasants and sharecroppers and farmers fighting against the grasping trusts, the railroad magnates, the bank sharpers. It is the camp of the Irish people. the Indian people, the Indo-Chinese and Moroccan peoples, the Filipinos and the Puerto Ricans, the Chinese people, the Polish and Czech and Slovakian and Scandinavian people, the people of the Soviet Union, – the people who are at war today or will be at war tomorrow against the imperialist tyranny of the United States, England, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the bureaucratic dictatorship of the Kremlin.

The Third Camp is the camp of the hundreds of millions who yearn for peace, for security, for freedom, for independence.

The Third Camp is the banner carried by the Workers Party, Section of the Fourth International!

Roosevelt and Company have developed the New Deal into the War Deal. They have spent billions, with more billions to come, on the biggest peace-time military and naval budget in American history. They have already committed the United States to support of one of the two war camps. They are already working overtime to supply the Anglo-French camp with material aid to make possible its victory, which they mean to convert into the victory of American capital. Their promises to “keep America out of the war” are LIES, just as Woodrow Wilson’s promises in 1916 were lies.

Side by side with these cynical preparations to hurl the country into war, goes an increasingly sharp campaign against labor. Unemployment still rages in the country and the millions of jobless continue to exist on the verge of starvation, with their miserable doles cut into more deeply every year. A wave of government prosecution and persecution against the trade unions and their leaders has been launched throughout the land. The billions of dollars cut off from the standard of living of the workers have been used to prepare a potent military machine for war. Meanwhile. the M-Day plans are completed so that the day war is declared the country can be converted into a thoroughgoing military dictatorship.

Jobs, Not Battleships!

The American masses do not want war! They have shown it in a hundred different ways. That is why the entire capitalist class, Roosevelt included, refuses to give the people the right to vote on war.

To fight under the banner of the Third Camp means not only to fight against war. It means that the main enemy of labor is at home – right here in the United States. It means, therefore, a fight against the employers and their government, first of all, FOR A JOB AND A DECENT LIVING FOR EVERY WORKER!

The war boom that has started in industry has left millions still unemployed. Labor demands the opening of the idle factories and their operation under workers’ control. If the employers will not operate them because they cannot make a profit, the workers will operate them themselves.

The working-week of labor must be reduced and the weekly wage of labor must be increased for the benefit of all workers – a 30-hour maximum working week and a 30-dollar minimum weekly wage!

A vast program of housing and public works must .be undertaken by

the government with an initial appropriation of Twenty Billion Dollars, to provide work and a minimum of comfort for millions. Labor must demand this appropriation instead of an appropriation of billions for a war that produces corpses and destruction.

Forward to a Workers Government!

Where is the money to he obtained?

In the first place, by expropriating the Sixty Families of the American Plutocracy. Take the billions from the parasites and use them for the masses! In the second place, by using all war funds for the unemployed.

To those who argue that the Roosevelt government will not take these measures, let labor reply: If it does not take these elementary steps, that only proves that we must have a government of our own, a government we can have full confidence in because we have full control over it. Labor must fight not to die in the trenches for the greater glory and profit of Wall Street; labor must fight for a WORKERS GOVERNMENT!

Workers of the United States! You have shown your power and militancy on a hundred occasions! You can accomplish anything you want if only you will it and organize for it with determination.

The trade union bureaucrats are already working hand in glove with the government, as they did in the last war. to prepare for the coming slaughter.

The Social-Democrats, like their brethren of the Second International in Europe, are howling for support to the camp of the “democratic” imperialists.

The Stalinists of the so-called Communist party, like their fellow-serfs of the Kremlin in other countries, are singing the praises of the other war

A plague on both their houses!

Down with the war-mongers in both camps, the assassins of the people!

Unite around the banner of the Third Camp and its spokesman in this country, the Workers Party, Section of the Fourth International – the Camp which fights for World Peace, for World Security, for World Freedom, for World Socialism!


(Section of the Fourth International)
National Secretary

Max Shachtman
Marxist Writers’

Last updated on 6.10.2012