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Grace Carlson’s Radio Speech

(9 March 1942)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 11, 14 March 1942, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Radio speech of Grace Carlson, member of the Socialist Workers Party and Candidate for Mayor of St. Paul, Monday, March 9th, 1942, 8:45 p. m.

The second World War constitutes the background of this election campaign and every social, political and economic issue of the campaign must be Studied in relationship to it. All of the other mayoralty candidates agree that the war question overshadows all other local issues in this campaign, but all of these candidates unite in their support of the war.

I cannot and do not support this war. I have the same position today as I had in November 1940 when I was the candidate for United States senator from Minnesota on the Trotskyist Anti-War ticket. (This was the campaign name of the Socialist Workers Party.)

The first plank of my 1940 platform stated, “The imperialist government of the United States cannot fail to drag this country into war. This will not be a war of defense or a war for democracy or liberation; it can only be a war for markets, foreign concessions, sources of raw materials and spheres of influence. This is Wall Street’s war and not ours.”

Events since then have proved that this statement was 100 per cent correct. Today I stand more firmly than ever on this position. This war is an imperialist war. Its character is not determined by who struck the first blow. It is not determined by the good or bad will of the heads of the belligerent powers. It was rendered inevitable by the economic rivalries inherent in the decaying capitalist system.

Against the Treacherous Politicians

There were many St. Paul labor leaders and liberals so-called, who were opposed to imperialist war before the entry of the United States into World War II. A.F. Lockhart, editor of the Union Advocate, published an editorial in the February 8th, 1940 edition of the paper, in which he warned of the nearness of war. He compared the war-like measures taken by Roosevelt at that time with those taken by WHson in 1916 and ended up by criticizing Roosevelt and both old parties in Congress for cutting down WPA appropriations and increasing war appropriations.

But today Lockhart is a staunch supporter of the war. So also are ex-socialists, William Mahoney and C.R. Carlgren, as well as scores of other Labor-Progressives.

The support given the war by the so-called labor representatives, the candidates of the Labor-Progressive Association, as well as by Fallon and the other reactionary candidates, renders them incapable of defending the interests of the St. Paul workers.

Not a single worker’s vote should be cast for these false and treacherous politicians.

New Attacks on Workers’ Conditions

The huge monopolies and their owners are the only ones who benefit from this war. While over 80% of the war contracts are awarded to about a dozen giant corporations, small businessmen are squeezed out of existence. The reports of the Truman and Tolan Congressional Investigating committees have revealed flagrant profiteering in war industries. They have shown, furthermore, that Big Business has deliberately refused to utilize its full productive capacity for “national defense” in order to safeguard profits and monopolistic positions.

I believe that legislation should be passed in order to confiscate all war profits. I also believe that the governnient should take over the basic industries and operate them under workers’ control.

The steep rise in the cost of living has already wiped out wage increases gained in the past year. Every housewife who shops for food, clothing and other necessities for her family knows that this is true. It is necessary for the workers to be protected against the further inevitable rise in the cost of living. The Socialist Workers Party recommends the principle of a rising scale of wages adjusted to meet the rising cost of living and we urge that all trade unions incorporate this principle in their contracts.

The Socialist Workers Party, recognizing the militarized character of our times, demands that every worker be given military training. We, propose that the trade unions undertake to provide such training for their members under their own supervision and control. Worker-soldiers should be led by their own elected and trusted officers. We propose that the federal government appropriate the necessary funds for the establishment and equipment of camps for military training of workers under the control of the trade unions.

For Full Equality!

We are opposed to all discrimination against Negroes in the armed forces as well as in industry. We believe that the Negro people should have full social, economic and political equality.

One of the Labor-Progressive candidates for the City Council, John Mauer, operates a tavern in which he practices racial segregation. And yet candidate Mauer talks about a war for democracy! I believe that Jim Crowism should be wiped out at home ip St. Paul as well as in the rest of the country, and that a candidate who discriminates against Negro citizens should be repudiated at the polls.

The workers of St. Paul, together with all of the workers and farmers in the United States, are today in a desperate struggle to maintain the social gains and the standard of living which they have won through their trade unions and other working class organizations. The employing class is attempting to place the full burden of the war upon the working masses. They are attacking wage and hour laws, the right to strike, unemployment insurance, old age pensions and other Social Security measures, public health and public education programs.

Unless the workers offer organized and militant resistance to these reactionary moves, they alone will be compelled to make all the sacrifices demanded by the war.

I believe that the present Social Security measures should not only be maintained, despite the demands of the war budget, but that they should be extended. I promise, if elected, to work for better relief standards, higher pensions for the aged and increased aid for dependent children. I believe that the salaries of the teachers, firefighters and other public service employees should be increased in order to meet the rising cost of living.

A better public health program should be given the St. Paul workers. Despite the tireless efforts of the overworked and underpaid doctors, nurses and hospital employees at Anchor Hospital, the poor location of the hospital, the age of the building, the over-crowded conditions, the limited budget under which it operates – all make it impossible for the workers of St. Paul to obtain proper care in that institution. The city should build a new hospital, equipped with all of the latest devices of modern medical science to serve St. Paul citizens.

I believe that all St. Paul citizens should have an opportunity to live in decent homes. I am in favor of an extensive public housing program for St. Paul – a program financed by the Federal Government.

I am opposed to placing the burden of the war upon the “ill-fed, ill-clothed and ill-housed one-third of the nation.” Let the rich pay for their own war!

But a permanent solution to the terrible problems of war and fascism can be obtained only by the establishment of a Workers’ and Farmers’ Government in the United States and the replacement of the worn-out capitalist system by a socialist economy. Fascism is a product of the capitalist system in decay. The sharpest attacks on working class leaders and the most savage’ persecution of minority groups occur in the totalitarian countries. Hitler and Mussolini are, hated by the working masses of the entire world – most of all by the terribly oppressed German and Italian workers. But the German and Italian workers still support these fascist tyrants in the war because they see no other way out for them. The German workers, in particular, fear another Versailles Treaty and another decade of starvation and suffering at the bands of the victorious Allies.

In order to organize a successful struggle against the forces of fascism, it is necessary to extend the hand of solidarity to the workers of Germany, Italy and Japan. Only a Workers’ and Farmers’ Government in the United States can do this. Only a Workers’ and Farmers’ Government can show the way by calling for a joint struggle of the workers of all countries against the capitalist system – the source of all of their ills. The failure of Stalin to utilize this weapon of internationalist working class solidarity in his struggle against Nazism has mortally endangered the Soviet Union.

And yet, the heroic resistance of the Russian workers against Hitler’s war machine has demonstrated that the masses will fight to the death under the banner of a workers’ state for industries and land which have been taken away from the capitalists and landlords. In no other country which has been invaded by the Nazis have the workers been inspired to such a magnificent struggle against the forces of Hitler.

Defend the Soviet Union

We defend the Soviet Union unconditionally, but we oppose the Stalinist bureaucracy because it has deprived the Russian masses of all their democratic rights and, by its policies, has placed the workers’ state in jeopardy. Stalin long ago left the path of international socialism – the path marked out by Lenin and Trotsky in the early days of the Soviet Union. He sells out the world’s workers and colonial peoples for the sake of temporary alliances, one time with Hitler, now with Churchill and Roosevelt. These betrayals have alienated the sympathies of millions of working men and women and dealt the heaviest blow of all to the Soviet Union itself.

Only a program of international socialism – a program based on the principles of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky – can save the world’s workers from capitalist slaughter and anarchy.

I am proud to say that I am an international socialist and that the Socialist Workers Party, which I represent is internationalist to the core. But because I have put forth this socialist solution to the problems of war and fascism and because I have opposed imperialist war, I and seventeen others have been convicted by the Federal Government. But I see no other way out of the bloody chaos of this capitalist system than that of international socialism. This is the only road to a system of enduring peace, freedom and plenty for all. I ask your support in this campaign on that basis.

Thousands of St. Paul workers will remember that Eugene V. Debs raised the slogan of international working class solidarity in World War I. Although he was imprisoned because of his position, a million workers cast their vote for him for President of the United States while he was in prison.

Copies of our platform or of this radio address may be obtained at our campaign headquarters, 138 E. 6th Street in St. Paul. There you may also obtain a copy of the testimony of James P. Cannon, leading defendant in the “seditious conspiracy” case and the National Secretary of the Socialist Workers Party. His testimony has been gathered into a booklet un der the title “Socialism on Trial,” and gives a complete account of our party’s program.

As the only candidate pledged to a program of international socialism, I ask the support of St. Paul workers. Your vote for Grace Carlson will indicate your desire to build a socialist United States of America and a socialist world.

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