Breitman Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

George Breitman

Wallace’s Move Spotlights
Need for Labor Conference

Third Capitalist Party Cannot Serve
Interests of American Workers

(5 January 1948)

From The Militant, Vol. XII No. 1, 5 January 1948, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Henry Wallace’s announcement that he will run as a third party candidate for president has exploded like a bombshell on the political arena. It splits the Democratic Party and deals the Truman candidacy a blow from which it may not recover. It opens the way for new political alignments and struggles of crucial significance. Most important, it poses again, and in the sharpest form, the task of the labor movement in the 1948 elections.

Wallace has long been the chief spokesman of those forces who preached the possibility of reforming the Democratic Party into an organization that could serve the interests of the working people, farmers and minorities. His withdrawal from the party will weaken that illusion.

Although the Democrats are trying (with quavering voices) to dismiss the importance of the Wallace move, serious opinion holds that he will draw a strong vote. Because in the absence of a Labor Party, Wallace will exploit the deep-going mass discontent with postwar conditions.

While his program is vague to an extreme and fails to provide an effective alternative to the evils of capitalism, it does denounce those evils and calls on the workers, Negroes and small businessmen to join in a political struggle against them.

But the Wallace movement is not a Labor Party such as the Socialist Workers Party and The Militant have vigorously advocated for many years, and which we will support against the capitalist parties.

A Labor Party is required today because the American workers while strongly organized economically, possess no broad national political organization of their own through which they can defend their interests against the political attacks of the ruling class. But such a party must be an expression of the organized working class, that is, of the trade union movement, and responsible to it.

Capitalist Party

That is exactly what the Wallace party is not. Its main base is not the labor movement, but the Stalinists and their liberal fellow-travelers. Its control is not in the hands of the union movement, but of a single individual supported by the Stalinists and those unions influenced by them. Regardless of the support it may pick up from individual workers, it does not have the character of a Labor Party movement. It is a third capitalist party.

Our criticism of this movement has nothing in common with the attacks launched on it bv the official union leaders – the Murrays, Greens, and Reuthers. Their opposition is in part based on their support of the Truman-Marshall Doctrine and of Wall Street’s program for war with the Soviet Union. We criticize the Wallace-Stalinist foreign policy from an opposite point of view; because it fails to oppose the Truman-Marshall Doctrine, with a working class program to abolish capitalism.

The labor bureaucrats further denounce the Wallace movement because they are opposed to any third party, no matter what its character, no matter who controls it. That is because they are on the Truman bandwagon and intend to stump the country trying to line up labor support for the Democratic Party. We, on the other hand, favor the formulation of a Labor Party, the kind that can arouse the necessary support and enthusiasm among the masses to defeat all the capitalist parties.

Bureaucrats’ Opposition

The opposition of the union bureaucrats to Wallace does not have any progressive content whatever. Instead of mobilizing the workers as an independent force on the political field, these bureaucrats seek to maintain the capitalist monopoly of politics which is responsible for the Taft-Hartley Act, high prices, housing crisis, racial oppression and the mounting danger of a new war.

Despite their opposition, the top union leaders have, in reality, made possible this Stalinist third party adventure. At a time when even Wallace must break with the discredited Democratic Party and admit that it can no longer be regarded as the lesser of two evils, the Murrays, Greens and Reuthers continue to hang onto this capitalist party, slavishly bolstering it up and trying to whitewash its anti-labor character.

Isn’t it plain that if the departure of Wallace can so shake the Democratic Party, it would crumple and disappear as a national party if the union leaders would break with it? Isn’t it obvious that by taking such a long-overdue step, the unions could quickly replace the Wallace-Stalinist adventure and become the rallying point for all the exploited and oppressed masses in this country?

What is the labor movement going to do in 1948? The reactionary intentions of most of the union bureaucracy are already all too clear. But there is still time for the rank and file workers to intervene.

No Explanation

The false argument, repeated by the labor bureaucrats, day in, day out, that “now is not the time” to launch a new party, because it would help elect a Republican, has lost all semblance of reason. Because Truman faces defeat despite the support of the labor union bureaucracy. This false policy of the “lesser evil,” drummed into the heads of the workers by the AFL and CIO leaders, as well as the Stalinists – can how be shaken off more easily. The labor leaders simply do not have any real explanations any more why they will not join in building a new party of labor.

Now, when the whole political situation has been shaken tip by the Wallace move, when political interests among the people is mounting to an air-time high, it is more than ever necessary for the trade unions to meet and to map out a program of united labor political action for 1948.

Now is the time for a United Labor Conference in Washington, to be attended by all the international and, local unions, AFL, CIO, Railroad Brotherhoods and independents. Now is the time for labor’s representatives to get together and democratically discuss the union movement’s attitude toward Truman and toward Wallace. Now is the time for labor to take its rightful place on the political field by launching an independent Labor Party and by running its own candidates for national, state and local office!

Breitman Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 2 October 2020