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Reva Craine

World Politics

(28 May 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 22, 28 May 1945, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Puerto Rico

THE defenders of imperialism have often resorted to the argument that the benefits of that policy in the form of roads, schools, hospitals, churches, etc., more than offset the intense exploitation to which the colonial peoples are subjected. We have been able to show that these “benefits” are introduced primarily to further the aims of the imperialists and only secondarily, or incidentally, are they designed to raise the cultural level of the colonial populations.

A case in point is the school system established by the United States in Puerto Rico. This has been used to shield the fact that the presence of United States imperialism in that island has disrupted its entire economy, reduced it to a one-crop economy, and made it entirely dependent upon the United States for food, clothing and the other necessities of life.

Spanish is the native language of the Puerto Ricans, but the schools of the island are conducted in English, the language of the United States. The result has been that the meager education received by Puerto Rican school children is of little practical value to them, since it is given in a language which is foreign to them, and which they will not use in adult life.

Recently the Puerto Rican Legislature passed a resolution asking for the re-establishment of Spanish in the schools. The resolution was promptly vetoed by U.S. governor Rexford G. Tugwell on the ground that “as long as the present close relation between the U.S. and Puerto Rico exists, retention of this system (which makes English the language of the schools) is wise and necessary. In spite of opinion to the contrary, the problem of language is mixed with that of the political status ...”

Elections and Strikes

In the absence of an influential revolutionary socialist party in France, the workers there expressed their desire to see some very radical changes in government policy by the very large vote they gave to the Socialist and Communist Parties in the French municipal elections just concluded. They voted for these parties not so much in endorsement of their actual programs, but rather as an expression of their discontent with the way things are now run in France and as an expression of their class solidarity.

What the French workers want, however, is even more clearly expressed by the spreading strike movements. Hardly had the coal miners in the North gone back to work when a general strike was declared in Lyon and the Rhone Department in Southern France.

On the evening of May 16th, the strikers assembled outside the office of the prefect and demanded a settlement of their grievances. They wanted ah increase in wages and sufficient food supplies. They demanded “the achievement of the social reforms for which the entire country has been struggling.”

In Paris, too, delegations of striking workers have descended upon the Ministry of Finance and National Economy, and protested against the insufficiency of wages, food and civil liberties. They have pointed out that, despite the small increases in wages and promises of greater food distribution, the cost of living has run way ahead of them, and that most workers are still living on starvation wages.

The workers of France are finding out that they cannot rely on the present government for amelioration of their conditions and that is why they link with their demands for wages and food a demand for the “achievement of the social reforms.”

German Industry

What to do with German industry poses a dilemma for the Allies. If they destroy what is left of it, how will Germany pay the war reparations which the Allies wish to impose? But if they permit industry to exist, and even help rebuild it, what will prevent the German industrialists from competing with the Allied industrialists for the world market, and what will prevent the former from using the industries to prepare for a new war?

While the Allied nations are pondering this problem, a partial solution is being worked out inside Germany. This solution involves those industries which are owned by American and British capital. Representatives of American firms which owned German factories are already in Germany, getting ready to re-open their businesses. American investors in German industry are demanding that their investments be protected. They believe that the function of the Allied Military Government inside Germany seems to be to protect just those interests.

John MacCormac in the New York Times relates the following incident:

“When the public utilities officer of the Nuremberg Military Government tried to explain to the manager of the S.A.&F. factory that it would probably not be allowed to manufacture cables and electrical equipment for the outside world as it had been doing for the Wehrmacht, the manager grew indignant.

“‘I shall report this to Major General ______,’ he threatened

“S.A.&F., he asserted, was an International Telephone & Telegraph Corp. factory and Major General ______ of the United States Army had been a director. That was enough for him.”

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