From Fourth International, vol.6 No.1, January 1945, pp.3-4.
Transcribed, marked up & formatted by Ted Crawford & David Walters in 2008 for ETOL.
When the United States entered the second World War, Roosevelt, chief spokesman of American capitalism proclaimed that this war was a crusade for democracy, for the “Four Freedoms,” for the destruction of fascism and totalitarianism. The labor bureaucrats, recruiting sergeants for the war machine, volunteered their services to sell the war as a conflict between “free labor” and “slave labor.”
After three years of America’s participation in the war, the demagogic slogans under which the people were dragooned into the slaughter have been stripped bare. Democracy and freedom are among the first casualties of the war. The slogans of “national unity” and “equality of sacrifice” are a snare. The pledges to take the profits out of war to prevent a new crop of wartime millionaires, are proved a monstrous hoax.
The capitalist government logically began its reactionary campaign by striking its first blows at the class-conscious vanguard of the American working class. On the very day war was declared, December 8, 1941, sentence was passed on the leaders of the Socialist Workers Party. They were convicted under the anti-labor Smith “Gag” Act for their uncompromising and outspoken opposition to the war program and because of their firm adherence to the principles of revolutionary Socialism. The conviction and imprisonment of the 18 was accompanied by a whole series of measures designed to throttle the unions and paralyze labor’s resistance to the onslaught of Big Business.
The right to strike, basic to the freedom of the labor movement, has been virtually outlawed. Workers have been frozen to their jobs at frozen wages while the cost of living continues to rise. A “modified” version of forced labor has been imposed by executive decree. An increasing weight of taxes is being saddled on those least able to pay while corporation profits soar to the highest levels in history.
The war immediately strengthened the most reactionary groups and institutions. The surge of reaction, especially the persecution of minorities and the spread of race-hatred, is a wartime continuation of tendencies inherent in capitalist decay. Brutal discrimination and humiliating segregation of the Negro people in the armed forces as well as in civilian life reduce the slogans of “democracy and freedom” to a hideous mockery for 13 million American citizens. The wave of anti-Semitism unloosed by capitalist reaction has already risen to alarming proportions. Jim Crowism and anti-Semitism march hand in hand with the assault against the organizations of the working class. This is the reality behind the demagogic facade of the “Four Freedoms.”
Prior to America’s entry into the war, this reactionary trend was analyzed and forecast in the Manifesto of the Fourth International on The Imperialist War and the Proletarian Revolution which stated:
“Seeking to gain the advantages of a totalitarian regime, the imperialist democracies launch their own defense with a redoubled drive against the working class and the persecution of revolutionary organizations. The war danger and now the war itself is utilized by them first and foremost to crush internal enemies. The bourgeoisie invariably and unswervingly follows the rule: ‘The main enemy is in one’s own country.’”
One of the consequences of the war is the emergence of the Military Staff as the spearhead of reaction. The ruling capitalist circles demand unquestioning subservience to the military caste. The intervention of the brass hats in various spheres of civilian life is an integral part of the growing regimentation of the American people. It is part of the enormous strengthening of reactionary tendencies in American life and politics and the unmistakable trend toward totalitarianism.
The American capitalist class is coining fabulous profits out of the second World War. Corporation profits in 1942 mounted to $19-billion or twice what they were in 1929 and four times the average of the prewar period 1936-39. In his “hold-the-line” report, April 1944, Roosevelt boasted that: “Corporation profits; both before and after taxes, rose in 1943 even above the record-breaking levels of 1942.” The same report emphasized that: “The level of basic factory wage rates has been raised less than 1½ cents an hour by actions of the War Labor Board. Wages have been stabilized (frozen).” Soaring profits, frozen wages, taxing the poor instead of the rich – that is the real content of Roosevelt’s fraudulent “equality-of-sacrifice” slogan.
The war has brought the direct representatives of Big Business to Washington. The war agencies are staffed with corporation lawyers and executives, bankers, stockjobbers and speculators. Wall Street is represented in all key positions of the war administration. Thus the war serves to accelerate the fusion of monopoly capitalism with the state.
The American capitalist class stands united in pursuit of its imperialist program to establish its hegemony over the world. Its aim is to make Wall Street the center of world tribute. To secure its domination American capitalism plans to maintain armies of occupation in Europe and Asia. Its most authoritative spokesmen speak of establishing naval and military bases all over the world, building a five-ocean navy, policing the world for 100 years, establishing an era of “peace by force,” etc. The plans of US imperialism call for maintaining a military machine before which all previous world militarisms pale into insignificance.
Let none imagine that imperialist domination will spell well-being for the American masses. On the contrary the maintenance of a gigantic military establishment will mean the imposition of back-breaking taxes on the working masses. The creation of a powerful military caste can only lead to the Prussianization of American life and the further regimentation of the American people. This program of regimentation aims to clear the road for Big Business; It strengthens the forces of reaction which seek to impose their open shop program by crushing the unions and instituting a regime of hunger and repression for the many and wealth and privilege for the few.
War is inevitable as long as capitalism continues to exist. A society free from exploitation, oppression and profits can alone put an end to war. Only the abolition of capitalism and the establishment of a Socialist society will spare the American people the horror of continuing war.
As part of their military program the ruling capitalist circles have projected the plan of conscripting the youth for compulsory peacetime military training. We have nothing in common with pacifists and muddleheads who are “against” military training. In this epoch of wars and revolutions all great questions will be decided arms in hand. In order to fulfill their historic mission the workers must become skilled in the use of arms. Against the capitalist program of placing the military training of the workers under the control of a reactionary military caste, we advocate our proletarian military policy: military training of workers, financed by the government, but under the control of the trade unions; special officers’ training camps, financed by the government but controlled by the trade unions, to train workers to become officers.
The trade unions have been in retreat since Pearl Harbor. They have been unable to maintain their positions against the unrelenting pressure of the employers. The surrender of their most effective economic weapon – the strike – in favor of compulsory arbitration through the employer dominated War Labor Board has deprived the unions of their Independence of action and has inexorably led to their subservience to the capitalist state. The capitalist government has carried through the program of the exploiting class, under the cover of the lying slogan of “national unity.”
The tripartite labor board is an instrument of class collaboration whereby the interests of the working class are subordinated to those of the capitalist class. To create an illusion of impartiality the personnel of such tripartite bodies as the WLB is composed of an equal number of representatives of the unions, the employers, and the “public,” that is, the government. But in a capitalist society the government functions as the executive arm of the ruling class. As an impotent minority the labor representatives on the War Labor Board, therefore, serve only to perpetuate the fraud that the WLB is an “impartial” agency.
With the connivance of the labor bureaucrats the WLB has assumed the role of super-arbiter of the labor movement. Following the promulgation of his “seven-point stabilization” program on which the wage freezing Little Steel formula is based and the adoption by Congress of the Smith-Connally Act, Roosevelt issued his sanctions decree empowering the WLB to take punitive measures against “recalcitrant” unions. The War Labor Board has become an agency for policing the unions, enforcing the wage freeze, hog-tying and housebreaking the union movement for the benefit of the bosses. With the collaboration of union officials, WLB decisions are imposed by threats, intimidation and force; the use of troops has become part of the “arbitration” procedure of disciplining the workers and keeping the unions subservient to the war machine.
Wages are kept frozen while rising prices and soaring profits enrich the exploiters. Workers are frozen to their jobs to prevent “competition” between employers in a tight labor market. Labor conscription, as imposed by executive decree under the Roosevelt-McNutt Labor Referral Plan, places the workers at the mercy of the dollar patriots. While the use of troops to break strikes has become a regular procedure, the rabid labor baiters in Congress and State Legislatures vie with one another in sponsoring repressive anti-labor legislation. Such are the products of the policy of class collaboration.
It has become impossible for the unions to cope with their problems, defend their interests or preserve their existence by the outworn methods of “pure and simple” trade unionism. The capitalist state intervenes and acts as the outright agent of the employers even where the most elementary “economic” demands are involved, Therefore, the fight for the most elementary demands entails a direct conflict with the capitalist state. The traditional “non-partisan” political policy of the trade union bureaucracy dooms the working class to impotence. The trade unions can survive only by breaking with the bankrupt policy of class collaboration, by regaining and strengthening their independence of action on the economic field, by formulating labor’s own political” program and organizing labor’s own political party with the goal of establishing a Workers’ and Farmers’ Government.
From the outset the labor bureaucrats proceeded to prove, by word and deed, how indispensable they are in harnessing the workers to the chariot of war. They declared a moratorium on labor’s right to strike. They espoused the policy of compulsory arbitration. They installed labor representatives on the employer-dominated War Labor Board – thereby lending their prestige to the anti-labor actions of the WLB. They accepted and circulated Roosevelt’s counterfeit “stabilization” promises as good coin; they acquiesced in the freezing of wages; and as part of the War Manpower Commission’s “labor-management” committee, they shared the responsibility for the job freeze. They remained on the WLB after the passage of the infamous Smith-Connally “anti-strike” law, and even after Roosevelt’s executive decree authorizing sanctions against the unions. They continued to participate in the WLB even after this body emerged as an outright strikebreaking agency in the service of the employers.
The labor bureaucracy has joined in a conspiracy with Roosevelt against their own rank and file. They strive with might and main to refurbish the tarnished “liberal” reputation of their “friend” in the White House, whitewash his crimes against the labor movement and screen his responsibility for a whole series of anti-labor measures by focusing their vapid criticism upon his hirelings. They disarmed the unions and sacrificed their independence on the altar of “national unity.” Functioning as obedient agents of the capitalist administration, the CIO-AFL and other labor bureaucrats have rendered yeoman’s service in propping up the structure of deceit and repression upon which Roosevelt’s labor policy rests.
These outright labor lieutenants of the war administration have taken on the job of policing the trade union membership. Workers’ democracy in the trade unions is incompatible with their policy of betrayal. The bureaucrats therefore utilize the no-strike pledge as a pretext for depriving the membership of their democratic rights; they install dictator-receivers over locals; victimize and purge union militants who resist employer provocation. The employers and their government use all means at their disposal to further the work of the labor lieutenants in bureaucratizing the unions.
As a reward for their services, the Roosevelt administration has granted the labor bureaucrats, not cabinet posts, as in Great Britain, but “maintenance of membership” and the “check-off” – through the War Labor Board.
The treacherous role played by the labor bureaucracy is paving the way for capitalist reaction. Roosevelt’s pronounced swing to reaction has served notice that the era of “New Deal” reforms is over. The capitalist rulers not only oppose new concessions but aim to cancel out those gains made by labor in the past decade. The bureaucrats are confronted with insoluble contradictions. As reaction deepens the workers grow more restive, increasing their pressure on the leaders. Any show of resistance by the top bureaucrats provokes a stormy movement of the working masses which threatens to topple the Rooseveltian labor structure. The bureaucrats whine and complain of their increasing inability to “hold the line” against their membership; and plead with their “friend” for concessions.
The resistance to the onslaught of reaction is growing despite and against the top union leadership. The struggle against the no-strike pledge, that is, the struggle to regain the unions’ independence of action, is “gathering momentum. The plans of the labor bureaucrats to convert the unions into auxiliary tools of American imperialism are meeting with increasing opposition from the ranks.
Since Pearl Harbor, “unauthorized” strikes have increased each year in number. The strike curve reached a new peak in the months prior to the European invasion, June 1944. After a slight recession in June, the strike curve resumed its upward spiral. Betrayed by their top union leaders, the workers have been attempting, through direct economic action on the job, to break out of the straitjacket of the no-strike pledge.
These sporadic strikes, usually lasting only a few days, have been in the majority of cases unable to achieve the objectives for which they were called. The striking workers lacked leadership and were immediately subjected to the combined pressure and intimidation of the government, the employers, and their own union officialdom.
The most advanced workers, as in the auto union, have come to realize that labor cannot break out of the straitjacket of class collaboration simply by engaging in uncoordinated departmental or plant strikes. In increasing numbers they are realizing that this is a national as well as a political problem. These advanced workers, drawing the lessons of their struggles, have formed a progressive wing to lead the fight to rescind the no-strike pledge. This marks a significant step toward the adoption of a militant program and the development of a new union leadership.
The American working class is today strongly trade union conscious. The lessons of the 1929 economic crisis, the traditions of the heroic strike struggles of the last period and the emergence of the CIO have penetrated deeply into the consciousness of the working class. Despite the uninterrupted retreat of the trade union movement since the outbreak of the war; despite the loss of its former independence and the cynical betrayal of the labor movement by its whole official leadership, the trade union movement remains a mighty power. In the past decade the trade union membership has almost tripled. The membership rolls stand today at an all-time high of 13 million and are still growing. Once this giant of a labor movement arms itself with a correct program and militant leadership it will reveal its unconquerable power.
The trade union policy of the Socialist Workers Party since Pearl Harbor has been confirmed by the experience of the past three years. It retains all its validity today. We fought and continue to fight for the following program:
The central slogan in the fight against the wage freeze should be the demand for:
The formation of the CIO Political Action Committee is an attempt by Hillman-Murray to duplicate John L. Lewis’s technique (Labor’s Non-Partisan League) of perverting the sentiment for labor’s independent political action into support for Roosevelt.
In organizing the workers in the basic mass production industries, the CIO found itself involved from the outset in bitter struggles with the ‘most powerful monopoly interests in the country. The epoch of imperialism is characterized by a fusion of monopoly capitalism with the state. The government’s role as a strikebreaking agency of monopoly capitalism and the growing recognition of the inadequacy of “pure and simple” trade unionism, impelled the CIO mass production workers along the road of independent political action. The organization by John L. Lewis of Labor’s Non-Partisan League, represented a systematic attempt on a national scale to mobilize the political strength of the working class, separate and apart from the existing apparatus of the two capitalist parties.
In 1938 the Socialist Workers Party correctly characterized the LNPL as “a stage in the development of the labor movement on complete subservience to the political parties of big capital to an independent labor party.” The CIO bureaucrats, headed by John L. Lewis, frustrated the political aspirations of the workers by supporting Roosevelt for the second-term. Their purpose? To mobilize the workers as a political force independent of the Wall-street-controlled Democratic and Republican parties in order to wean Roosevelt away from his dependence on Big Business.A utopian dream! Shortly after his re-election in 1936 with the aid of Labor’s Non-Partisan League, Roosevelt issued his infamous “plague-on-both-your-houses” statement at a time when the steel barons unleashed a murderous attack on the steel workers in the 1937 Little Steel strike.
The development toward an independent labor party was thus retarded by the false policies of the leadership and above all by the mitigation of the economic crisis attendant on Wall Street’s feverish preparations for war.
The hypnosis of “national unity” is being dispelled by a sharpening of class conflicts in the course of the war itself. The 1943 strikes of the coal miners, which evoked a series of strikes in the automobile, rubber and other industries, threatened to topple Roosevelt’s labor relations edifice. The workers, more and more disillusioned with Roosevelt’s “equality-of-sacrifice” fraud, began pressing for wage increases. The passage of the Smith-Connally Act; the unrestrained labor baiting in Congress; the increasing intervention of the government on the side of the employers in labor disputes; the disarming of the unions by the no-strike pledge; the inadequacy of relying on trade union methods in an essentially political struggle – all this gave added impetus to the movement for an independent labor party.
It was during this period of labor struggle that the CIO Political Action Committee was organized. Its formation was announced one week after the Michigan CIO State convention went on record for the organization of an independent labor party. The CIO-PAC was formed for the express purpose of heading-off the growing sentiment for labor’s independent political action. But so discredited are the capitalist politicians and parties, that Hillman-Murray had to pay lip-service to the idea of labor’s independent political action in order to divert the movement into the channel of the two party system.
Despite a superficial resemblance to the traditional “non-partisan” policy of the labor bureaucracy, the CIO-PAC, like its predecessor Labor’s Non-Partisan League, represents a departure from the Gompers school of politics. The essence of the Gompers policy consisted in keeping the working class politically atomized and wholly subordinate to the political bosses of the Democratic and Republican machines. The CIO-PAC attempts, on the other hand, to organize the workers as a Political unit. Inherent in this attempted political mobilization of the workers by the CIO-PAC is a tacit threat to the political monopoly of America’s Sixty Families. That is why it calls forth the venomous opposition of agents of Big Business. By singling out the CIO-PAC for special attack, reaction is in actuality waging war against labor’s right to organize on the political field.
All the factors which gave rise to the movement for an independent labor party will become more and more compelling in the next period. The need for a solution to the problems of the labor movement will become more acute. The perfidious Hillman-Murray policy of converting the CIO-PAC into an auxiliary of either of the two capitalist parties can only lead the unions further into a blind alley.
Despite the bitter opposition of the top labor bureaucrats the movement for a labor party is gathering adherents among the more advanced sections of the labor movement. The emergence of the Michigan Commonwealth Federation, the adoption of resolutions by a number of local unions calling for the formation of an independent labor party, the growth of labor party sentiment among the more conscious union militants, testify to the dynamic character of this movement. The genuine left wing in the trade unions will crystallize around the struggle for a labor party, and lead the movement forward to a decisive break with the political parties of the capitalist class.
In the period of the Hitler-Stalin Pact the Communist Party conducted a pseudo-radical, essentially pacifistic agitation from the “left” against the imperialist war. Large sections of the labor movement were duped by the leftist coloration which served to camouflage the reactionary character of Stalinism. After Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union and the Kremlin’s shift in foreign policy, the Stalinists became the most vociferous warmongers. The imperialist war of yesterday was metamorphosed into a “war of liberation.” Following Stalin’s dissolution of the Comintern, the Stalinists announced the formal dissolution of the American Communist Party, disavowing all Socialist aims and objectives. Through the “Communist Political Association” they step forward as the avowed defenders of the capitalist status quo.
That the Communist Party is an agency of Stalin’s foreign policy, that the Stalinists change their program overnight in compliance with the demands and needs of the Kremlin bureaucracy, was in the past understood only by the class conscious workers. Today this is widely recognized by large sections of the labor movement. Thus great sections of the trade union movement, from a trade union standpoint, oppose the Stalinists today from the left.
Today the Stalinists operate as a strikebreaking agency in the service of the employers. While the entire labor movement opposed Roosevelt’s proposal for labor conscription, the Stalinists rushed forward to endorse this measure. In the Montgomery Ward Strike the labor movement lined up solidly behind the union with the notable exception of the Stalinists who proclaimed their readiness to scab and break the strike. Their latest campaign, ballyhooed by the Daily Worker, for a permanent no-strike pledge, their unremitting agitation for the speedup, their lynch incitation against union militants who resist the employer-government union busting drive, their organization of a vigilante assault on a pacifist Quaker group in Seattle, etc., etc., expose the Stalinists as the spearhead of reaction inside the labor movement.
Eager to convince the ruling circles that they are the most dependable agents of the employing class, the Stalinist flunkeys have not hesitated to come into conflict with the conservative union bureaucracy. It must be recognized that the Stalinists are on an increasing scale addressing themselves directly to the capitalist class. They are trying to demonstrate how indispensable they are in ferreting out the militants and keeping the’trade unions firmly in the vise of the war machine. The capitalists remain cautious toward the Stalinists today. Tomorrow, when the crisis of capitalism becomes more intense, they may decide to utilize the services of the Stalinist strike-breakers more directly.
Despite growing opposition the Stalinists still remain a power in the American labor movement. They still remain the greatest single obstacle in the path of the revolutionary party. They have an effective, well-organized national apparatus. They control a number of International unions in the CIO, numerous CIO local unions and central labor bodies as well as many AFL locals. Corrupted to their very marrow, the cynical agents of the Kremlin bureaucracy are ready for anything.
The Socialist Workers Party will continue to mercilessly expose the traitorous program of Stalinism. The Trotskyists will work indefatigably to destroy Stalinist influence within the labor movement, both by propaganda and organization work, as well as by timely appeals to the worker elements within the Stalinist ranks.
Deriving from the Baruch-Hancock report, the “postwar” plans of the capitalist class have taken legislative form, and are being administered by Big Business tycoons. The Baruch-Hancock report was drawn up by Wall Street bankers, endorsed by Roosevelt and supported by both the Republican and Democratic parties. This plan is based on the preservation of the “free enterprise” system; that is, on the perpetuation of monopoly control of production, distribution and exchange. It envisages a return to the era of planned sabotage of production and monopoly prices, the era of mass unemployment and mass poverty. The Baruch plan is a Bourbon plan – its authors have learned nothing and forgotten nothing.
In addition to untold millions amassed from war contracts, the cost-plus patriots are planning a gigantic steal of billions-worth of government-owned land, industrial plants, equipment and “surplus” commodities. This government owned property is valued at approximately $100 billion. Comprising one-quarter of the country’s productive capacity, the government-owned plants alone are valued at 20 to 25 billion dollars and represent 20 percent of all capital invested in American manufacture. Under the Baruch-plan, “free enterprise” disposal of government-owned property, for which legislation has already been adopted, most of these plants will go to a small group of some 25 corporate giants, to enormously strengthen the financial oligarchy’s strangle hold on the economic and political life of the nation.
The monopolists view the industrial empire newly created by the government as a source of “over-production” and therefore as a potential threat to their monopoly control. Under the Baruch plan, the sabotage of production, planned and practised by the “New Deal,” when premiums were paid for plowing under cotton, corn, livestock and so on, is to be repeated on a gigantic scale with the plowing under of plant and equipment.
Under a rational economic system, the resources and productive capacity of American industry would be capable of assuring an economy of abundance for all. The government owned land, plants, and other productive facilities can become the key to the future. If utilized for the benefit of the people this government-owned industrial empire is capable of feeding, clothing and housing millions. This new productive capacity will be so utilized only if the producers themselves, i.e. the workers establish their own control over these vast means of production.
With the military collapse of Germany there will be an officially-estimated cutback in war production of 40 to 70 percent with a corresponding decline in employment. The Federal Reserve Bulletin for May 1944 asserts that a return to prewar level of production of 1939 – a relatively “prosperous” year – will mean from 15 to 20 million unemployed. “Reconversion” to civilian production under monopoly control will yield the largest army of unemployed pariahs in history. Congress legislates generous cash payments to war contractors and insures the profits of the corporations during the “reconversion” period; but the only provision made to cushion the shock of unemployment is the “states rights” Starvation-Bill which provides “relief” for workers as low as $2.00 a week.
To the capitalist breadline-and-soup-kitchen plan the workers must counterpoise their own plan for the “post-war” period. Such a plan, if meant seriously, must be advanced in the form of a political program. To solve the problems of “post-war” security this transitional program must provide:
The essence of capitalist “planning” is to artificially create an economy of scarcity. The parasitic capitalist class has lost all justification for its continued existence. It can no longer advance the productive forces, it can only retard and sabotage production as a whole. It is the task of the American working class to free the productive forces from the strangle hold of private ownership and institute a planned economy under the Workers and Farmers Government.
The crowning slogan of the Trotskyist transitional program is the Workers’ and Farmers’ Government. Each of our transitional demands leads to one and the same political conclusion: the workers must break with the political parties of the capitalist class and organize their own political party in order, jointly with the working farmers, to establish their own power. Through the program of transitional demands elaborated by the Socialist Workers Party the Workers and Farmers Government can assure the transition from capitalism to socialism.
The Socialist Workers Party strives to mobilize the working class around its transitional program as the only way out of the morass of unemployment and hunger, of artificial scarcity in the midst of abundance.
The colossal war expenditures will raise the national debt of the United States above the astronomical figure of $300 billion. This unprecedented debt is accelerating the process of inflation. The cost of living continues to rise, additional and more burdensome taxes are imposed on the masses, the workers’ standard of living is depressed to ever lower levels. Despite the favored position of the United States the war will have a ruinous effect on American economic life. Unemployment, that capitalist-bred social plague, will scourge the land. The arch-reactionary measures of repression against the labor movement adopted under the pretext of war necessity will be extended to the “post-war” period. The drive toward totalitarian rule will continue under the demand for a “strong” government in Washington.
The United States, the very nerve center of the world capitalist order, is sensitive to every dislocation and shock to the social system. The contradictions and growing antagonisms breaking through the “unity” surface of the “United Nations”; the clash of imperialist interests and the fundamental antagonism between world imperialism and the Soviet Union; the intensification of class conflicts within each nation; the tremendous social convulsions shaking the European continent, all have profound repercussions within the United States. Trotsky wrote:
“We must not for a moment lose sight of the fact that the might of American capitalism rests more and more upon a foundation of world economy with contradictions and crises, military and revolutionary. This means that a social crisis in the United States may arrive a good deal sooner than many think, and have a feverish development from the beginning. Hence the conclusion: it is necessary to prepare.”
The war, which in the beginning hindered the radicalization of the masses, is giving a tremendous impulse to this radicalization. The indignation of the working masses will rise in a tidal-wave of revulsion against those parties and leaders who deceived them. The need for a solution to their problems will impel the workers along the road of revolutionary struggle. Our transitional program will meet with an increasing response from ever broader layers of the American working class.
We already see the first signs of this awakening in the growing sentiment for labor’s independent political action and the increasing opposition of union militants to the no-strike pledge. In many instances union militants have adopted parts of our transitional program and advanced our slogans in the struggle against the labor bureaucrats. These manifestations demonstrate that our transitional program conforms to the workers’ needs and, when properly applied, is the indispensable medium for carrying out our political tasks in the mass movement.
Only the Socialist Workers Party has advanced such a program and can provide the necessary leadership. Many of the best, most intelligent and most politically conscious of the union militants will draw the proper conclusions from their experiences and will join the ranks of our party in the coming period. Only on the basis of our transitional program can the trade unions break out of the impasse into which they have been led by the labor bureaucrats and really become a powerful lever for advancing the interests of the working class.
It is our task to penetrate more deeply into the unions, extend our influence in the mass movement, reach those militants groping their way toward a revolutionary solution, rally the vanguard round our banner. Our program has met the test of experience, our banner is unsullied, our cadre is prepared. We can look forward with complete confidence to a rapid growth of our party in the period ahead.
The profound crisis of the social system and the sharpening of the class struggle will pose before the American people the alternative: Either fascism or socialism. There is no “third” alternative. Confronted with a threat to their privileges and profits, monopoly capitalists will call upon their fascist gangs to preserve capitalist “law and order.” Functioning as the agents of Big Business, the fascists get their recruits from sections of the population rendered desperate by the economic impasse into which capitalism has driven society, The dissatisfaction, indignation and despair of the unemployed; the disillusionment of war veterans and the frenzy of the lower middle classes ruined by big capital, are diverted by the fascists away from their real source of misery and against the workers.
The Socialist Workers Party teaches that the labor movement can combat the fascist menace only by organizing the unemployed in alliance with the trade unions and championing their struggle; that the labor movement must unite the war veterans in organizations allied with the unions and fight for their demands; that the 1abormovement must elaborate a bold program which provides a solution to the burning needs of the working farmers and ruined urban lower middle class. Only by putting itself at the head of all those sections of the population, exploited and oppressed by monopoly capitalism and by fighting for the fundamental solution embodied in our transition program can the working class destroy fascism and lead the people to a society of peace, security and plenty.
It has been established as an historic law that fascism cannot come to power unless and until the working class party fails to provide a correct leadership in the revolutionary struggle for power. The American working class has demonstrated its fighting capacity in numerous class battles. It is relatively free from the Social Democratic and Stalinist traditions that paralyzed the will of the European workers before the fascist onslaught. The initiative lies with the American working class. Our party, the only revolutionary party on the political arena, will have its chance. We shall not fail!
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Last updated on 4.9.2008