Max Shachtman

Behind Jones-Wallace Fight

Part IV
Workers Party Program

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 9, 26 February 1945, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Who must take the responsibility for raising production, providing employment and the means of maintaining a constant production?

The government must take this responsibility. We need a government that will not hesitate to take the boldest steps required by the interests of the working people – the overwhelming mass of the population. Our measuring rod is not the interests of “free enterprise,” of the tiny minority of big monopolists and their agents, but the interests of the tens of millions of common people.

First off, an immediate cessation of the sale of government-built and government-owned plants and facilities to private capitalists, a sale that has already proved scandalous.

Conscript War Plants – Nationalize

Then, the conscription of all war industries. The government did not hesitate a moment to conscript more than 11,000,000 men into the the armed services for the prosecution of the war. It conscripted their lives, in other words. Let us have a government that is not even one-hundredth as “radical” in working for the “interests of the nation.” Not millions of lives, but the war industries should be conscripted, taken over by the government, and taken over really in the interests of the masses.

The government conscripted lives by the millions, but it shrinks with horror from the idea of NATIONALIZING the banks, the big monopolies and corporations, the transportation system, the mines. These big capitalist institutions like to refer to themselves as “public servants” or “public services.” Very well, let them really serve the people, if by “the people” is meant the useful men and women who work to produce the wealth of the nation.

By these proposals we already indicate HOW a planned program for jobs, high living standards and security is to be carried out. But it is necessary to go further.

For Planned Production

For planned national production, a government needs financial resources. We want to obtain them in such a way as not to throw the burden on the economically weakest shoulders – the shoulders of the workers, little farmers and middle class people, but to place it on the economically broadest shoulders, where it belongs. A most important additional reason for this is to reduce the financial power of the big capitalists, bankers and monopolists who invariably employ this power to support reaction, including fascist reaction at the “right time,” against labor and the common people as a whole.

First off, therefore, there should be not less than a one hundred per cent tax on all war profits above five per cent on invested capital. It is a monstrous shame that these profiteers should be allowed to coin super-profits out of the blood of the dead and wounded in the war, which is precisely what they are doing now.

No individual income should be allowed to exceed $25,000 a year. Roosevelt talked about such a ceiling. What is needed is not talk about it, but deeds. Nothing in the world can justify a higher individual income than $25,000 a year when right now there are more than twenty-one million workers who still earn less than $1,000 a year, with all that this means in terms of human misery.

Finally, the government must have a graduated capital levy on all accumulated wealth above $50,000 to cover the enormous war costs and to provide jobs and security. This is merely the application of the principle of the progressive income tax to accumulated wealth. The only ones it can affect are the monopolists and their hangers-on. The ones who will benefit are the tens of millions.

A Five-Year Construction Program

The government must use its power to inaugurate a 250 billion-dollar five-year program of housing, public works and rural electrification and modernization. Its war program, which is a program for destroying dwellings, industries, public works – and people – is far in excess of our modest proposal.

All these proposals, however, would bring about little if any improvement, if they were left in the hands of the profiteers of “free enterprise,” the social bankrupts, the warmongers, stockjobbers, fixers, chiselers and the vast army of bureaucrats who operate to keep them all at the top of the social ladder. The effective and progressive execution of this program demands:

Workers’ control of production. If it is the Knudsens and Wilsons and Sloans and Fords and duPonts and Morgans who are in control of the “planning” and of production in general we cannot possibly have a serious change, except for the worse. The organized workers must be in control, not just here and there, but on a national scale.

They must have the decisive voice in hiring and firing, so that they do not remain at the mercies of the reactionary employers. They must have the right to examine company books, to see to it that there is no concealment of profits and no monopolistic fixing of prices. It is more than sufficient, for the time being, that a fixed maximum of profits is drawn by the employers out of industry. On everything else they have proved to be bankrupt. The workers themselves must control production.

To bring about jobs and security for all, Wallace tells labor to rely on – Roosevelt. But there is more than enough practical experience to show how deceptive such reliance is. Wallace himself, as mild a capitalist reformer as we know, was dumped off the last Democratic presidential slate by Roosevelt. And the same Roosevelt even hastened to inform Congress that he would approve the taking of the RFC out of the jurisdiction of Wallace as Commerce Secretary.

Labor Should Rely on Itself

Labor needs nothing more than reliance on itself. It is the strongest and most representative organized force in the country. It alone is capable of putting into effect the elementary program, the plan for jobs and security, that we have outlined. The FACT is that no capitalist government, regardless of who was at the head of it, has taken, has been able or willing to take, one-tenth of the simple, clearly-indicated measures that are so urgently needed if economic life is to be organized for human well-being, instead of for human suffering in peacetime and mass destruction in’ wartime. This program is a program for a workers’ government! Only such a government can make it a reality.

A workers’ government demands, as the very first step in its realization, a workers’ party. Labor needs, first and foremost, a party of its own, an independent Labor Party.

In his New York speech, Mr. Wallace said that “the people who are fighting me” are the ones who “want to push you and me into the futility of a third party. I think we can win within the framework of the Democratic Party.”

What serious evidence is there that labor “can win within the framework of the Democratic Party”? The continued domination of that party in Congress by the Southern reactionaries? The failure even of Wallace to be nominated for the Vice-Presidency at the Chicago convention of the Democrats? The Roosevelt appointment of the big corporation stooges for the State Department? The treatment, again even of Wallace, by the Democrats in the Senate? We mention these four points. Four hundred far more significant points could be mentioned.

The truth is that Wallace wants to keep labor in the Democratic Party trap, chained to the futility of capitalist politics. One of the reasons he is needed by the Democratic Party is to keep labor in its trap.

Break with Capitalist Politics

Labor must break out of it. Labor must put an end to the policy of futility to which its leaders have condemned it. Labor must organize its own party and challenge the parties of capitalist bankruptcy for control of the nation and its destinies.

Vital questions are at stake. They concern nothing less than a decent job for all, a decent standard of living, decent homes, decent education and decent care for all, an end to the nightmare of insecurity, want, fear, suffering. No real progress toward realizing a program that guarantees what labor aspires to and longs for is possible until the big step forward has; been taken of organizing labor into an independent political force.

Wallace is also “long” on words and “short” on action. He wants, in fact, to keep labor from taking the only action that can set it on the right road, to keep it tied to the Democratic Party’s apron-strings.

Jobs, high living standards, rising national production and income security and abundance – these demand a program of action for a workers’ government. That is the position of our Workers Party.

A workers’ government to carry out this program of action – that demands an independent Labor Party based on the fifteen million democratically-organized workers of the; country. There lies the road ahead.

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Last updated on 20 April 2016