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James M. Fenwick

Off Limits

The Veteran and Labor’s Struggle

(25 March 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. X No. 12, 25 March 1946, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the ETOL.

The returned veteran is proving a terrible disappointment to the capitalist class.

The capitalists had hoped that the veterans could be developed into a cohesive anti-labor body while they were serving in the armed forces. Through such shoddy journals as Stars and Stripes, and through other forms of indoctrination, the officer dupes of capital continually harped upon the high wages at home as contrasted with a soldier’s pay strikes, which were supposed to have created shortages at the front and slowed down demobilization, and the Earthly Paradise enjoyed by draft-deferred civilian workers.

Such agitation never really took hold, many soldiers in the end having come to believe that it was just one more example of army propaganda. Once home, the veteran was able to see exactly how much truth lay behind it.

With unimportant exceptions the veteran has placed himself in the forefront of recent strike struggles. In the recent G.E. strike in Philadelphia, for instance, it was the veterans who formed the spearhead of the anti-injunction demonstration, courageously breaking the police lines and battling with the mounted cops.

There, where the working class was meeting the blue-coated strikebreakers of the capitalists in pitched battle in the streets, the veterans cast back their reply to the slander of the military propagandists during the war, when all one could do was bite one’s tongue and wait.

Labor Must Take the Initiative

Veterans have assimilated themselves into the ranks of the organized labor movement with relatively little conscious intervention by labor itself. More must be done.

History has taught us that the labor movement can neglect the veterans only at,its ownperil. In Germany it was the dissatisfied veteran who formed one of the bases of the fascist movement which finally destroyed organized labor.

The union movement must fight for the progressive economic and political demands of the veterans, beginning with a reform of the GI Bill of Rights where it seeks, io make a scab of, a veteran by refusing him compensation wheh, he is on strike – up to and including a guaranteed annual living wage for all veterans who are unemployed.

Labor should initiate the formation of labor veterans’ posts, which will bring veterans into the closest possible relation with the organized labor movement. Similar close relations should be established with independent veterans’ organizations such as the Amvets, AVC, VLA, etc.

A Timely Warning

Gerald L.K. Smith, the fascist, has instructively indicated what the capitalists have in mind for the veteran. He and his associated human filth have been stumping about the country seeking to create an organization known as the Christian Veterans of America.

Basing themselves on well-known grievances of veterans, Smith’s men are seeking to give a yoyitg, militant base to their anti-labor, completely reactionary organization.

Labor should draw the proper moral and orient toward the veteran.

The veteran problem is not small, and it will persist. There were around 14,000,000 men and women in the armed forces of this country in the course of the war – or more than 27 per cent tof the estimated civilian labor force as of March, 1945. At this moment there are 2,500,000 veterans unemployed.

Further, the United States is embarking upon a program which envisages the direct or Indirect economic, political, and military domination of the globe. This means the maintenance of large permanent armed forces by United States capital. It means a continuing and increasing veterans’ problem. It means constant efforts by the bosses to pit the veteran against the organized worker in the unemployment and war crises which are inevitably coming.

The problems of the worker and the problems of the veteran flow from the identical, tainted source – capitalism. For it is capitalism which produces war. It is capitalism which produces unemployment and inhuman working conditions.

The bond between worker and veteran which has been welded on the picket line must be perpetuated by common action in the tempestuous days to come.

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