Glotzer Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Carl Davis

The Newspaper PM Writes on Anti-Semitism

(November 1943)

From Labor Action, Vol. 7 No. 48 (should be 47), 22 November 1943, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The New York newspaper, PM, which carries on a fight against all forms of racial discrimination, is now engaged in a campaign against anti-Semitism which, in our opinion, is extremely harmful.

The purpose of this campaign is to prove, in reply to the anti-Semites, that the Jews do not really control the world, or the United-States.

What device does PM employ in its campaign? It cites examples from business, government, the movies, writers, industry, the labor movement and political organizations, to show that the Jews are an extremely small minority, in business, industry, politics and culture. Thus, argues PM, the Jews cannot possibly control these things.

Obviously, the Jews, so small a minority all over the world and in this country, do not and are not likely to control life in this or any other country. But the thing which stands, out in the PM campaign is its cowardly retreat before the attacks of the anti-Semites in high places and in low ones.

What The PM Policy Means

It is the kind of argument which, drawn to its logical conclusion, would mean that if the Jews did make up the majority in one field of enterprise or another, in one field of culture or another, that would be a bad thing. It is one form of the argument that the Jews must remain in their place, and should not be represented at any time by a percentage greater than their population.

It is easy to see what this can lead to a witchhunt of Jews, a movement to deprive them of their democratic, political and economic rights. It would have nothing to do with ability, experience, education or welfare. It would be a simple arithmetical judgment which is a form of race or national prejudice, because it would soon be followed in respect to other nationalities and races, and finally to people of different religious faiths.

The Anti-Semites do not want the Jews represented by “proper percentages.” They want a total elimination of the Jews from all forms of social activity. They want to disfranchise the Jews altogether, they want to reduce the Jews. to the position of the Negro in the South and to deprive them of all social, political and economic equality.

The most important thing to understand about anti-Semitism is that it is a social, political and economic movement of reaction and that it serves anti-labor purposes!

What the Bosses Want

When an industrialist refuses to give a wage increase to his workers it is not because the workers are Jews, Irish, Italians or Slovaks. He refuses to give a wage increase to all who work for him, regardless of nationality, or religion, or color, because he makes profits from those in his employ, as workers. When workers resist the boss, it is not because he has a certain color, or religion, or is of a certain nationality.

They resist him as a boss because he wants to reduce their level of existence, and make more profit from them.

As socialists, it makes no difference to us who the capitalist is, what his color, religion or nationality may be. We oppose him because he is an oppressor of labor and profits from the sweat of the workers. This is true, whether the boss is a native American, Irishman, Englishman, German or Jew. And it is true, whether he is a Protestant, Catholic, or Mohammedan.

PM cannot understand this point of view because it is essentially a capitalist newspaper – even though a liberal one – interested in upholding the profit system and defending the “right” of the capitalist to exploit workers and profit from their toil.

The Socialist Viewpoint

We do not, of course, deny that race, religious and national prejudices exist, and that they are deep-rooted. But we know that much of it is induced from above by leaders of “society,” whose interests are served by such divisions among the workers.

Much of it is artificially maintained by the agitation of politicians, newspapers and the pulpit. Neither Congress, the press, nor the church, and, in this case, especially the Catholic hierarchy, has spoken out forthrightly on this question. Put the reason for if is that these forces are essentially on the side of the capitalists and against labor.

The way to fight this thing we are talking about is by a clear and militant opposition, without retreating one inch, not the way PM is doing. This is essentially labor’s battle. The future of labor depends upon its unity against all forms of reaction. The way to labor’s defeat is through disunity, by swallowing all the prejudices which make it the easy prey of a capitalist class whose well-being rests upon a divided working class.

Top of page

Labor Action 1943 Index | Writers’ Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

Last updated on 8 July 2015