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Anthony Massini

The Bosses, Not the Workers,
Prevent Rise in Production

(10 January 1942)

From The Militant, Vol 6 No. 2, 10 January 1942, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The enemies of labor, the representatives of big business and the captains of industry, have all seized upon the war situation, and the needs of the war machine for war supplies, as justification of repressive measures against the unions.

They argue as follows: The Axis has had a headstart in the production of the instruments of war. This war can be won only by all-out production. Nothing must be permitted to interfere with that production. Above everything else, strikes must be prevented, for they are an aid; and comfort to Hitler.

Of course, the employers would never think of placing the blame for strikes where it actually belongs: on themselves. Workers don’t want strikes, and never have, even before the war. All they want is improvement of their conditions, higher wages to meet the rising cost of living, job security, etc. It is only when the bosses refuse to meet the workers’ just demands and the workers see that they cannot get them met any other way, that strikes take place.

But even if workers were crazy and liked to strike for the fun of it, and even if the bosses were not responsible for strikes, still their argument is based on hypocrisy from beginning to end. For the fact is that the greatest threat to increased production in this country comes from the capitalists themselves.

War Has Not Changed the Bosses

The captains of industry have never been willing to produce anything unless they could make a profit from it. They have been the first to admit they are not in business for the fun of it. In peace time they never hesitate to shut down their factories and throw the workers out into the street if they don’t make a certain percentage of profit. It would be foolish to think that they have changed just because war is declared.

A few months ago I.F. Stone, journalist in Washington, wrote a book called Business As Usual which demonstrated in a lot of detail that, despite the emergency declared by Roosevelt and the knowledge that United States entry into the war was inevitable, the leading industrialists and their representatives in the government, the dollar-a-year men, were still motivated exclusively by the desire for profits, and were exceedingly unwillingly to take any steps that might interfere with their chances to pile up profits during either this period or after the war.

If anyone wants new evidence that the bosses and their representatives in the government have not changed in this respect just because of the formal declaration of war, we offer the following story told by Samuel Grafton in the New York Post, Dec. 27:

How the Bosses Sabotage War Production

The chief of the materials division of the OPM, William L. Batt, has been trying to get Congress “to provide funds for building the Douglas Dam on the French Broad River in Tennessee, a honey of a dam, because it cart be finished in time for 1943 aluminum production, in the summer of which year it would come roaring in with 1,000,000,000 kilowatt hours, allowing us to up our aluminum perhaps 100,000,000 pounds per year.”

But, says Grafton, Congress won’t do it. “The House Appropriations Committee has mysteriously taken the money for this item right out of the recent deficiency bill. No dam, says the committee.”

And the reason is that “to build this dam would necessitate flooding 12,000 acres of farmland, which happens to be keyed with a nearby canning industry.” And because “one small bracket of the canning industry” might lose some money if the land was flooded, the friends of the canning industry are seeing to it that no dam is built, regardless of the effect it will have on the war machine which so urgently requires aluminum.

(Imagine what would happen today if the aluminum workers through a strike were to hold up 100,000,000 pounds of aluminum!)

This incident of the dam is not an exception, but an example, which is being duplicated in a thousand different ways in all sections of industry.

But does this mean, I am sure some people will ask, that I claim that the bosses don’t care if Hitler wins the war? Not at all. Of course the bosses don’t want Hitler to win. They want the United States government to win so that they can be sure of continuing to make profits not only in this country but throughout the world. And that is what makes their failure in achieving all-out production all the more significant!

For even though, to safeguard their own interests, they want to win the war, they are so concerned about making profits now that they are unable, though abstractly willing, to so run industry that maximum production will be insured! This constitutes a far stronger indictment of their methods than if they didn't want to win the war.

What a Workers and Farmers Government Would Do

No Workers and Farmers Government would tolerate such anarchy and sabotage in production — least of all, in time of war — as is tolerated in Washington today. A Workers and Farmers Government would quickly take steps to remove control of industry from people who arc concerned primarily with enriching themselves. It would take the profits out of war production and place the control of industry and production in the hands of democratically-elected committees of the workers, to be operated in the interests of the majority of the people, in war and peace.

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