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The New International, November 1946


Notes of the Month

The Wallace Dismissal


From New International, Vol. XII No. 9, November 1946, p. 262.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The dismissal of Henry Wallace from the Truman cabinet is an event of deep symbolical importance. It marks the end of one epoch and, in more senses than one, signifies the opening of another.

Everyone knows that Wallace was the last on the list of those associated with the New Deal policies of Franklin Roosevelt. That the list was so rapidly exhausted was not due merely to the desire of Truman to surround himself with his own friends. The New Dealers departed with such rapidity because there was nothing more for them to do. Roosevelt himself had declared what all the world knew, that the New Deal was dead. Of the New Deal and all it, signified nothing now remains but the desperate hopes of the labor leaders that somehow or other Truman will find some policy which will enable them to corral the workers once more into the Democratic camp.

That is why Wallace was allowed to remain so long. He was supposed to be the representative of labor and the liberal intellectuals. In reality Wallace’s sole power lay with his influence in labor circles. He spoke often and with force against the formation of a third party or a Labor Party. To prevent that was his special value to the Administration. For the rest he did nothing in the cabinet. In the great strikes he was practically silent.

Wallace had startled the country toward the end of the war by declaring that America needed a revolution – a bloody revolution or a bloodless one; he was for a bloodless one and he implied that unless Congress carried out his bloodless revolution, there was certain to be a bloody one. But the country entered the post-war crisis. Wallace sat in Truman’s cabinet and it was as if he was not there. What action of President Truman’s on the domestic front was influenced by Wallace? Labor spoke for itself on the picket-line. It managed without Henry Wallace.

It is by no means unimportant that the break came over foreign policy. The internal crisis which the New Deal failed to solve has steadily been transforming and developing itself into its true international dimensions. In 1940 the economic bankruptcy of the New Deal was patent. The growth of the fascist movement in the United States was unmistakable evidence of this. The growing transformation of the economy into a war economy saved the situation for the time being. Roosevelt (and Wallace) mobilized the population for war and each added a phrase to the history of bourgeois hypocrisy. Roosevelt blew the soap-bubbles of the Four Freedoms and Wallace, the “labor” representative, proclaimed the present century as the Century of the Common Man. This now was Wallace’s dilemma. Of the men who actually led the country into the war behind the smoke-screen of false and lying promises, he alone remained in the government. The international results of the war are a global ruin. The people of the United States can see abroad nothing but the shambles and debris of the Second World War and, in a thousand places, the crackling flames of the new. Furthermore, Byrnes, of the right wing of the Democratic Party, and Vandenberg, of the Republican Party, are using the machinery of the United Nations to carry out their battle for world domination with Stalinist Russia. Wallace was faced with the task of opposing them or being as impotent in foreign policy as he was in the internal crisis. The psychologists will work out the degrees of his sincerity. The fact remains that the only “peace” policy he could find was to divide the world into two parts, leaving half the world to Stalinist imperialism and taking the other half under the “protective custody” of American capital and the American Army, Navy and Air Force. Even some of his own liberal followers are aghast at the abandonment of every pretense of idealism. But they have put forward nothing else-because there is nothing else for those who accept capitalism. The policy hasn’t even the advantage of giving any hope for peace. Liberalism stands naked to the breeze, and the breeze is cold with doom.

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