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Notes of the Week

(14 October 1933)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 47, 14 October 1933, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Said the Mad Hatter

When you hear about the great need of killing 1,000,000 hogs to help the Drive toward Prosperity, you will, no doubt, look up and wonder. A sneaking suspicion will grow within you that there is something cockeyed with a system that requires such waste to keep going.

* * * *

You look around you. Eleven million hungry men are still pounding the pavements, unemployed. The bright fellows in the government’s brain trust keep on thinking up all kinds of plans to keep the grain crop down, to curtail the live stock. They have to. The leaders of this system that we call capitalism tell them we have too much.

* * * *

That’s the big trouble with us. We have too much. That is why eleven million men must starve.

* * * *

Odd enough, every worker will admit to himself, and keep wondering. But sometimes the Mad Hatters of capitalism carry their crazy talk and topsy-turvy ideas so far that the worker can’t just stop with mere wondering.

* * * *

The other day, for instance, Mr. Gerard Swope, a big bun among the boss class, the head of General Electric and a member of the NIRA board, was caught thinking aloud. He was comparing the NRA with the Russian five year plan. Said Mr. Swope:

“The Soviets started from scratch. They had no industry, no financial structure, no problems of overproduction such as we had to deal with ... Their economic problem is comparatively easy.”

* * * *

The Soviets, under Lenin and Trotsky, took over a country forlorn, neglected and backward, the ruins of an empire misruled by medieval despots. Its industry lay fallow and devastated, the wreckage of a criminally futile and disastrous war. A hostile capitalist world surrounded Workers’ Russia. When that world could not put it down by force of sword, the international boss class tried to cut off Russia’s credits, its sources of economic life, it was still another attempt to throttle it. In the cockeyed world of Mr. Swope ... “Their economic problem is comparatively simple”, but ...

“But over here we have an overdeveloped economic and industrial pattern ... That has been a colossal task with which Russia never had to be bothered.”

* * * *

The United States entered the world war a debtor nation. It came out of it the outstanding creditor nation, the dominant world power. Its industries surpassed in wealth and technical progress those of all other countries. Its rulers became the real dictators in a war-ridden Europe. Its resources – unlimited. A whole world stood ready to do its bidding. It had everything. “That has been a colossal task with which Russia never had to be bothered”.

* * * *

Help! We’ve got too much, cries this loon. And you’ve got to do more than just wonder this time. Because there is some reason in his madness this time. Says Mr. Swope – of the Soviets:

“When they need more coal they expand their mines, put more men in them and produce. The same is true of mills and other industrial structures.”

They do the job.

* * * *

But over here, in NIRA America “with all the natural (?) human jealousies that go with it,” “different groups strive for different advantages, and in many cases with little regard for the general good.”

* * * *

Here you can’t do the job. You’ve got all the tools and all the materials, but you can’t do the job “Different groups strive for different advantages, and in many cases with little regard for the general good.”

* * * *

Mr. Swope knows his capitalistic system, the system of profit and greed, of wasteful competition and industrial anarchy.

That is the big difficulty over here. That is what stands in the way of solving the problem in the U.S.A. And Mr. Swope tells you – that’s the only the thing that stands in the way. In so many words.

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