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George Breitman

Wallace Fired in Drive to War

Ouster Symbolizes Wall Street lntention
to Hasten Atomic Bomb Attack on USSR

(28 September 1946)

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 39, 28 September 1946, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The dismissal of Henry A. Wallace from the Truman Cabinet is of great political significance for every worker in this country. This act means: 1. That Wall Street and the government openly proclaim their undivided support of a tough policy toward the USSR that is, a program of war in the not-distant future. 2. That the Truman administration is preparing for tougher measures against the labor movement at home.

Wallace’s personal fate is of little importance. His confused and misleading program differs only tactically from that of Byrnes. But he has served as a symbol for the ruling class of this country, and his ouster as a symbol throws light on the real perspectives of Wall Street and Washington.

Wallace stood as a symbol for two things in the Cabinet: As the advocate of go-soft-with-Russia tactics, and as the last governmental spokesman of New Dealism, which was based on a policy of keeping the support of the labor bureaucrats through limited concessions.

Like a number of businessmen, chiefly small businessmen, Wallace believes that it is easier to make a deal with Stalin through “soft” methods. This deal, he proposes, should include political collaboration with the Stalinist bureaucracy, economic aid, a substantial loan, etc.

In return for these concessions Wallace thinks a truce could be reached with Stalin, recognizing his “sphere of influence” and leaving the rest of the world to the tender mercies of American imperialism and thus averting or postponing war. Such was the proposal put forward in Wallace’s Madison Square Garden speech and in his July 23 letter to Truman which was published after the first public flurry.

Public Threat

But the decisive section of the American ruling class and its servants in the White House and at the Peace Conference openly reject such a tactic. And they have kicked Wallace out to tell the whole world – and especially the European powers they are lining up against the Soviet Union – that now is not the time for half-measures or compromises. The removal of the advocate of “peace” with the Soviet Union is, under present conditions, equivalent to a public threat to resort to war.

This becomes even clearer from a consideration of the circumstances surrounding Wallace’s ouster. Important elections will take place in just a few weeks. Wallace, wearing the New Deal mantle, was counted on to swing labor votes to the Democratic Party.

Nevertheless, when Truman was placed in a position where he had to back up Wall Street’s get-tough tactic, he acted decisively, even if it meant yielding up an important section of the labor vote. The Truman administration places the interests of American capitalism as a whole above even the immediate needs of the Democratic Party. Better to take the risk of losing an election, Truman figured, than to jeopardize the war program.

The break with Wallace has its own logic on the home front. A government which is planningwar has to prepare to crack down on the masses if it is to regiment them for the war machine. The administration has been moving cautiously to the right – but in stages, because of election needs. Having been driven to a break with Wallace and his faction in the ruling class sooner than anticipated, the Truman Administration’s course from now on will tend steadily and faster to the right.

The Wallace dismissal is thus a warning to the labor movement that Wall Street’s war program is not a long-term program, but one that can plunge the country into war in short order. In the light of this grim reality, it is imperative for the organized labor movement to immediately launch the struggle against imperialist war and against the anti-labor measures that come with a war program.

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