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The New International, October 1944

Notes of the Month

The P.A.C., the Elections and the Future


From The New International, Vol. X No. 10, October 1944, pp. 307–309.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


On September 23, President Roosevelt opened his campaign for a fourth term. He had chosen to speak to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen & Helpers of America. Not only in the choice of the occasion for his opening speech but also in what he said, the President recognized the significance of labor in modern society. In the course of the speech, he de fined three main tasks: (1) the winning of a speedy victory. The speed of the victory, he implied, was necessary in order to relieve the strain and burdens upon the masses of the people. (2) Setting up an international machinery for the keeping of the peace. This also was the unanimous demand of the great body of the workers. (3) Reconversion. All his hearers understood him to mean such a transference of production from the needs of war to the needs of peace that the great body of the workers would not suffer unemployment. It was a proposal of the workers, for the workers, to the workers, but by the President.

President Roosevelt, however, claims to represent not only the workers but all classes in the community. The New International considers itself the representative, first and foremost, of the interests of labor. Our policy for many years past has been the traditional Marxist policy of no support to capitalist candidates in the presidential elections. Let us examine the professions of the President and see how far any proposal, analysis or explanation that he makes should cause any class-conscious worker to support him.

A speedy victory is his first aim. But, for that matter, it is impossible to see what change in the military plans of Eisenhower, of MacArthur, of Nimitz and the rest will take place if, for example, Roosevelt is replaced by Dewey. Both of them will continue to urge that speedy victory depends upon the continuance of the no-strike pledge. Both will conduct the military administration with due regard to oil in the Near East, squeezing Britain out of Latin America, air supremacy against Britain, intrigues as to whether Germany should be de-industrialized for the benefit of American capitalism or leaving Germany some strength so as to be able to use her against a possible domination of Europe by Stalinist Russia. Both will continue to support the Badoglios and the most reactionary elements that they can find in Europe to suppress the aspirations for national independence and the “Four Freedoms” of the European peoples. Such has been Roosevelt’s policy. Dewey might do it better, but we doubt it. And in any case, to the workers, it is not important.

The President’s second point was the setting up of international machinery for peace. Here we have his own record in the past to go by. In 1916, Wilson had been reelected on the slogan, “He kept us out of war.” Six months afterward, the United States was at war with Germany. In 1940, the people were deeply suspicious of the course of action which the President had been following in relation to the European war. Therefore, on October 30, 1940, in a speech at Boston, Roosevelt reassured them as follows: “You mothers and fathers, I have said this before but I shall say it again, and again, and again: your sons are not going to be sent into any foreign war.”

For our part, this October the President can say again and again (any number of times he pleases) that he proposes to set up international machinery for the preservation of peace. We tell the people of the United States that Wilson lied us into the last war, Roosevelt lied us into this one. And twenty years hence another capitalist President, if such unfortunately still exists, will lie us into the third. Roosevelt’s record on the war allows no one to trust him on the peace. In 1937, in the Chicago speech, he shouted the challenge to Japan that the “aggressor” should be quarantined. He telegraphed to Hitler and Mussolini in 1938 asking them to accept the compromise of Munich and sent congratulations to the Munich men. When the war actually began, his policy of economic sanctions, of lend-lease, of exchange of destroyers for military bases – all these, carefully calculated to lead the American people into war, were presented as measures which were to keep us out of war. Lenin called the first League of Nations a “thieves’ kitchen.” History is now proving it in the blood and suffering of countless millions. Dumbarton Oaks is only another League! There is no international machinery of imperialists which can prevent imperialist war and Roosevelt knows it.

The third question is the question of reconversion. Senator Truman, Vice-Presidential nominee, has written for the CIO News of October 9 that “to achieve full production and jobs for all, we must have planning, national planning.” Yet so far, with the end of the war in sight, no plan has come from all the multitudinous bureaus, agencies, commissions, committees, etc., of the government. We deny that capitalism can plan full production and eliminate unemployment. But what we point out here is the fact that no plan has been placed before the workers by which they can judge of the intentions, such as they are, of the Roosevelt Administration. The President claims that by the New Deal he restored the country to prosperity. The consequences of the New Deal were that after eight years we still had ten million unemployed in the country. Owing to the development of the productive capacity during the war, the contradiction between the possibilities of production and the consumption of the people on a capitalist basis is today infinitely wider than it was in 1940. Yet Roosevelt has told us emphatically that the New Deal is dead. If the New Deal is dead, then what deal does he propose now? Nothing. For the workers to spend their strength, their energy, their money in supporting Roosevelt is merely to encourage these capitalist politicians in the brazenness and impudence with which election year after election year they continue to deceive the American people.

“I Can Do it Better”

But perhaps Dewey, the Republican candidate, has a positive program. Let us see. Arthur Krock, Washington correspondent, summed up the campagin of Dewey and his tactics so far in the New York Times of September 24. The headlines of the article tell the whole story. Here they are: “DEWEY TACTICS IN RACE CONFUSE HIS BACKERS “Politicians in Capital, Anxious for the Governor to Win, Fear His Position Is Too Close to Roosevelt’s “EXPECTED SHARP DIFFERENCES”

If the capitalist politicians and the capitalist press cannot find any substantial difference between Roosevelt and Dewey, it is a delusion for workers to think that there is any. In the article itself, Krock points out that Willkie in 1940 had no other program than that he could do “the same things better.” In 1944, Dewey puts forward no program simply because he has none. That’s all.

This is what explains the course of the campaign. Having no program, Dewey, as the “attacker,” has had to concentrate his attack upon irrelevant superficialities. Thus, according to Dewey, what is wrong with the country is that the Administration consists of old, tired, quarrelsome men. Put into office young, vigorous, amiable men and we shall have international peace, jobs and security. He declares, dramatically, “It is time for a change.” On this, we agree. But it turns out that Dewey’s great change would consist chiefly of restoring to the White House its reputation for truth-telling and integrity. The aim is worthy. But, first of all, it is difficult. The only remote connection which we can make between the White House and truth is the statement by the first President that he cut down the cherry tree, but, sad to relate, historians are now in general agreement that this story is a fabrication. In any case, truth from the White House would demand the President’s saying that he had no plan for curing unemployment and insecurity. We do not expect this from Roosevelt. But we do not expect it from Dewey either. The bankruptcy of the two capitalist parties in face of the great problems which confront the United States stands revealed. For the workers to support the one or the other is not only to encourage them in their pernicious politics; it is to take responsibility for the crimes that they have committed in the past, and the chaos, misery and disasters of the future.

What, then, must the workers do?

The course of the election itself gives a clear indication of the correctness of the policy which we have been advocating for many years past.

The distinctive feature of the present election is the emergence of the Political Action Committee as the political reflection of the CIO inside the Democratic Party. Roosevelt and the Democratic politicians are aware of the importance of the PAC for a Democratic Party victory. But the bourgeoisie as a whole is united in its condemnation of this organization because it recognizes that the PAC is a stage in the development of labor as an independently organized political party in the country. This bourgeois condemnation is only to be expected. What is disgusting is the attitude of some so-called socialists and friends of labor, such as, for instance, Louis Waldman, candidate of the Socialist Party for the governorship of New York in 1928, 1930 and 1932. In the Saturday Evening Post of August 26 he states that while labor has the right and “many liberals believe the duty” to take an active interest in politics, the idea of a political junta delivering the labor vote “is repugnant to American psychology.” He concludes: “Such a political machine is dangerous enough in the right hands; in the wrong hands, it might become a positive menace to the public welfare and more difficult to defeat than any machines Republicans or Democrats have ever built.” Out of the mouth of this hanger-on of the bourgeoisie, now terrified at the vision of a successful Labor Party, have come words of great wisdom. That is precisely what we have been urging and shall continue to urge – the organization of a powerful independent Labor Party which will be infinitely more powerful than any party the Republicans or Democrats have been able to build in the past.

All those who fear the power of labor are now busy trying to prove that an independent Labor Party is contrary to the history, the tradition the political practice, the psychology, of the American people, and therefore inimical to the interests of labor itself. This is just a lot of lies and nonsense. In No. 60 of The Federalist, Alexander Hamilton analyzed the principles of representative government which moved the founding fathers in their preparation of the Constitution of the United States. There, in the most natural manner in the world, he speaks of “the landed interest, or the monied interest, or the mercantile interest, or the manufacturing interest.” He goes on to say that in a country “consisting chiefly of the cultivators of land, where the rules of an equal representation obtain the landed interest must, upon the whole, preponderate in the government.” In those days, it seemed perfectly natural that specific interests should be represented in the political bodies which administered the country and represented according to their strength. But in 1788 there was no organized labor interest. Now, today, we have in this country some thirteen million or more organized workers. They represent the labor force of this country, some sixty million people, the very bedrock and foundation of American civilization. When they hold their conventions, politicians of every stripe swoop down upon them to try to instruct them in what is their duty because their decisions are of fundamental interest, not only to the country as a whole but to the world at large. The President opens his presidential campaign at a gathering of union workers. No important political or social step is taken in the country without consulting the wishes and aims of labor by those who for good or ill are supposed to represent them. It is dinned into their ears from all sides that the American democracy is the greatest democracy in the world.

In 1944 labor has dared to form a political organization within one of the capitalist parties, to see that the interests of labor are represented in the political councils of the nation in the same way as, in 1786, the specific interests of those days were represented by political organizations. Forthwith from one end of the country to another, all writers, politicians, publicists, newspaper editors and what-not, seek to assure labor that this exercise of its democratic rights in full harmony with the economic and social developments of the time, is completely opposed to the ideas and principles of American democracy. Not only that. By means of the Smith-Connally Act and the Hatch Act, even those Democratic politicians who are reaping the benefits of the semi-independent organization of labor in the PAC, seek to cripple, obstruct and hinder this reaching out by labor to its own independent political status.

No power on earth can prevent the emergence of an independent party of labor in the United States. In every great European country, the necessities of capitalist production compelled the workers to organize themselves on the industrial plane and then, politically, as an independent party. Even in backward and autocratic countries, such as Spain and pre-revolutionary Russia, labor organized itself in a politically independent form. Such a development is inevitable in the United States, the most capitalistic of all countries. Hill-man has delivered the CIO vote to the Democratic Party. But in the minds of the great bodies of workers who support the PAC, this organization, for them, is a means, as Hillman himself has said, “of implementing labor’s program to meet its needs and those of the entire nation ...” For the moment, the masses of the workers who follow the PAC do not quite see the necessity or the possibility of constituting themselves into an organization that repudiates not only the Republican but also the Democratic Party itself. We, however, see it. And we consider it the first necessity of those who see this clearly to prepare the workers for it, not only by urging them to repudiate both the bankrupt capitalist parties in words but also to do so in action, by refusing to support them in this or any other election and devoting all our strength and energy to the creation of an independent Labor Party, either by transformation of the PAC or by any and all other means which the historical and political development may present.

It is just here, however, that the Stalinist Communist Party is committing another of its great crimes against the American working class. Claiming to be the representatives of Marxism and of organized labor, yet at the present moment its whole energies are directed toward crushing the emerging aspirations of labor for its own political independence. [1]

The leaders of the Republican Party are perfectly aware of the dangers which the PAC represents to capitalist society as a whole. In their concentration on the phrase “Clear it with Sidney,” they seek to discredit labor organization, the populations of foreign descent, and to raise the specter of bolshevism and communism and socialism as alien isms. But the leaders of the Democratic Party also are perfectly aware of the danger of a PAC. The Southern Bourbons know that the rise of labor inside the Democratic Party means that the position of domination in Democratic councils which they have so long held is now threatened. The city bosses, particularly Kelly and Hague, know that the greatest threat to their corrupt rule is the independent organization of labor. Those cynical capitalist interests who support equally the Democratic and Republican Parties have viewed, not with rhetorical but with genuine alarm the numerous CIO leaders who came to the Chicago convention and the influence exercised at the convention by Sidney Hillman, Their difficulty is our opportunity. But this historical opportunity is to be gained not by truckling to or by threatening the Democratic Party but by the most uncompromising repudiation of it. We must use the opportunity of the election to demonstrate to the masses of the workers the terror of their opponents and the political power that lies in their hands for the taking. The bankruptcy of the two old parties is demonstrated in their lack of program. Labor, therefore, must not only organize itself independently, but must do so with a program. And this program must be a program for the socialist reconstruction of American society.

If there was any possibility for the capitalistic parties to present a program, we can be sure they would have done so. There is none. It is the war that saved the New Deal from a catastrophic bankruptcy. By placing before the American people a program which will strike at the very root of the social crisis, labor will be able to draw to it the Negroes, who, more than any other section of the population, are aware of the bankruptcy of both parties as far as their special problems are concerned. As the PAC has already shown in the South, labor will be able to draw into the democratic process for the first time in American history those millions of whites and Negroes whom the Southern Bourbons deprive of the vote. It will be able to pull those millions of rank and file voters in the Republican Party who thought that they saw some solution to the problems of the country in the demagogic words of Wendell Willkie.

These are the perspectives of the labor movement. These possibilities have been posed in embryo by the mere emergence of the PAC, even though as a constituent part of the Democratic Party. The New International feels confident that the Marxist policy of no support to the capitalist parties is more than ever justified by the existing situation. We urge all our supporters to seize this opportunity to devote their best energies to the clarification of the minds of the working class as to the great opportunities that are now presented to them.

The Workers Party has no candidate in this election, but its transitional program offers a basis for the rallying together of all the forces of labor and for organized labor to place itself at the head of the nine-tenths of the population who genuinely wish an end to the suffering and chaos of capitalist society imposed upon us all by the minority of property-owners and their docile political tools.


1. Not so malicious but impotent are the candidacies of the Socialist Party and the Socialist Labor Party. Norman Thomas has no program, and the Socialist Labor Party has no contact with the developing strength and consciousness of the working class.

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