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John F. Petrone

Wallace’s Campaign Book – A Typical
Middle Class Panacea for “World Peace”

(26 April 1948)

From The Militant, Vol. 12 No. 17, 26 April 1948, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Wallace’s new book [1] contains little that he hasn’t already said a dozen times in his speeches, and its price is really exorbitant, considering that it is really a pamphlet. Nevertheless, it serves a useful purpose by giving an even clearer picture than you can get from his individual speeches of the mixture of demagogy and confusion that he and his party are peddling to the American people.

The most important fact emerging from this book is the sincerity of Wallace’s desire to save the capitalist system. He correctly points out that “Roosevelt’s policies ... were usually the minimum necessary to save the situation for democratic capitalism in the United States. He was saving the reactionaries and tories from themselves, but they never knew it.”

And Wallace’s ambition is to continue Roosevelt’s job. It is within that framework that he condemns such policies of the bi-partisan coalition as the Truman Doctrine: “Continuing the Truman Doctrine,” he says, “is the surest way of committing a long, slow, painful national suicide in the most expensive way possible ...”

One has only to examine his main proposal for offering a deal to Stalin to see what a thin tactical line separates him from the other capitalists. If he was president, he says, he would approach Stalin and, along with the promise of a big political loan, he would let the Russians “know the points beyond which we cannot tolerate further Russian expansion – all of them.”

He would demand a “pledge by Russia not to expand either by direct coercion or by Russian-directed communistic infiltration beyond the agreed-on boundaries.” He would insist that Russia “join the United States in agreeing to certain limitations on the use of veto power over United Nations decisions.”

Wallace says, “I want to see a continuous and friendly competition between the two systems,” but the basis of this desire in his belief that “the capitalist democratic system of the United States has certain unique advantages.” Everybody knows what the most important of these advantages is – overwhelming superiority of economic power. Wallace wants to combine the use of the “friendly” approach with the use of American capitalism’s superior strength.

Again and again he reminds his fellow capitalists about the opportunities for “wise” investments and the juicy returns to be gotten by casting bread upon the waters. “Under the program I have described there can be a great expansion of business and markets for the benefit of the United States, Britain and Russia as well as the Eastern European countries themselves.” He argues that at this time American interests can be better protected by his program, and far more cheaply, than by war.

And suppose he could not get from Stalin the concessions which he demands in return for the “friendly” approach? He does not discuss that problem – but the implication is obvious. In that case, Wallace would point out that he had “exhausted” all the possibilities of peace and that there was now no alternative but the more aggressive method of Truman and Marshall. Even if he did not succeed in postponing the war which he fears may sound the death knell of capitalism, he would still be able to resume his role as mobilisier of mass support for another war for “democracy.”

This book expands on Wallace’s concept about the two kinds of capitalism – reactionary and progressive – that he pretends are possible in modern society. “Personally I believe in democratic progressive capitalism – not capitalism that degenerates into fascism, but capitalism that learns to serve the common man in abundance without depression and without war,” he says.

No use asking him where or when such a capitalism ever existed in the 20th century; liberal demagogy is not provided with such answers. No use in even trying to determine which of these two kinds of capitalism Wallace believes exists in the United States today; half of his remarks lead to the conclusion he thinks it’s reactionary, while the other half can be construed just as logically to mean he thinks it’s progressive.

Equally ludicrous is his program for combating monopoly: “We have no doctrinaire answer. In some cases the. great corporations must be bought by the government. Others must submit to regulation and planning on behalf of the general welfare. Still others should be run as cooperatives.” The idea of turning U.S. Steel into a co-operative may strike some people as fantastically utopian; but it is no more fantastic, we must point out in all justice, than the idea of a capitalism “without depression and without war.”

Wallace is not a Stalinist; he makes that abundantly clear in the pages here where he dissociates himself from them. But he accepts and parrots a good many of the Stalinist slanders and arguments. On Page 50, for example, he repeats the Kremlin’s slanders about the Moscow Trials, referring to the defendants as “Nazi-Trotskyist conspirators.” Three pages later, however, he admits that “Trotsky was an uncompromising leftist who wanted revolution as soon as possible in every capitalist country.”

But how could a man who wanted revolution in every capitalist country have conspired with the political representatives of German capitalism? Like most of the other contradictions abounding in Wallace’s book, this one is left floating in the air, flapping occasionally under the gusts of “progressive” rhetoric.

The Stalinist review of the book is perhaps worthy of as much comment as the book itself. The April 15 Daily Worker chides Wallace a little because while “he pictures the venality, corruption; violence and deceit of our ruling circles,” he “surrounds it with the shell of an illusory ‘progressive capitalism’ which can rescue it.”

But the point is that Wallace isn’t stating just his own philosophy here – he is stating the philosophy of his party, the same party that the Stalinists are pushing with all their might. And Wallace’s illusions about capitalism (lies would be a scientifically more accurate term) are not private quirks, but the very heart of the third party program which he and the Stalinists are trying to sell the American people.

Stalinist weasel-words must not be permitted to obscure the fact that a vote for Wallace is a vote for the defense of capitalism. Wallace insists on this point, and so do we. Let everyone understand this fact and take his stand accordingly in this year’s crucial election campaign.

* * *


1. Toward World Peace by Henry Wallace, Reynal and Hitchcock, 1948. 121 pages, $1.75.

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