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Albert Goldman

PROS AND CONS: A Discussion

On Utilizing Aid Despite U.S. Motives

(31 May 1948)

From Labor Action, Vol. 12 No. 22, 31 May 1948, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Dear Comrades:

In your editorial statement Socialist Policy on the Marshall Plan, published in Labor Action of May 17, you assert that I do not “understand the nature of the Marshall Plan.” After pondering your lengthy explanation I find that my understanding of the plan practically coincides with yours, that is, that it is essentially a plan to strengthen American capitalism in Europe. In order to justify your opposition to the plan you use more words and call American capitalism more bad names but this changes nothing.

The question then is: should a socialist oppose a concrete plan for aid to Europe because he does not approve of the motives of those who propose the plan? You say – yes, even if our vote means the defeat of the bill proposing aid. It is quite true that you insist over and over again that you are for aid to the European people but under the circumstances your repeated assertion is pathetic and meaningless. For the European people cannot get any aid except through the bill which was recently passed by Congress.

Undoubtedly the section of the European masses which is not under the influence of Stalinism understands the motives of American imperialism in offering aid, just as you and I do. But they are not foolish enough to reject that aid because the representatives of American capitalism have purposes of their own in giving the aid. The European people, in all probability, do not feel that they are enslaving themselves to American capitalism by accepting aid.

It is necessary to remember the distinction between the motives of the proponents of the Marshall Plan and the particular bill which offers aid to the Europeans. Opposition to the European Recovery Bill would be justified only if the aid offered would do actual harm to the European masses.

You obviously do not feel too secure in opposing the Marshall Plan because of the motives of its proponent’s. You proceed to add that there are “conditions and strings” attached to the bill which make it mandatory for a socialist to oppose it. And here you unconsciously strike a humorous note.

One of the “conditions and strings” is that the aid offered is not sufficient. We readily grant that. But is that a reason for voting against a bill which offers great quantities of grain, coal, oil and machinery? It is only a reason for proposing to amend the bill but not for opposing it.

Another condition is the “dumping of worthless goods.” But why should one oppose a bill which grants valuable material simply because worthless goods are also offered? The European people might refuse to use the worthless goods and use only the valuable material. You point out with justified indignation that horse meat is offered to the Europeans. Although I have a suspicion that some hungry Parisian people might not share your indignation you can count on me to vote for an amendment to supply beef instead of horse meat.

And you appear to be very excited about the attempt to “tie the foreign currencies to the American dollar.”Let me assure you that socialism can come into existence in spite of the fact that the European currencies might be tied to the American dollar.

The other conditions you mention are also unsatisfactory from the point of view of a socialist, but the important thing is that neither singly nor together do they prevent the Europeans from getting some relief or create a barrier to the establishment of a socialist order.

If the European masses not under Stalinist influence had a collective voice they would probably say:

“We are indeed grateful to you, leaders of the Workers Party, for being in favor of aid to the Europeans. But you are opposed to the only bill which promises us some relief. If you could you would vote against the bill and pre-vent us from getting relief. Under the circumstances can you blame us that we are happy that you are insignificant in numbers and in influence? Naturally we would be happy if you were to get a majority overnight so that we would receive real help from you. But until you get such a majority we hope you will remain as insignificant as you are now. For we need and we want the aid of the Marshall Plan – yes even the horse meat which we do not like but which in a pinch can satisfy our hunger.”


Albert Goldman

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