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Notes of the Week

(21 October 1933)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 48, 21 October 1933, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The League of Nations as an Example for the NRA

The leading article of the New York Herald Tribune Sunday Magazine, last week, makes an eloquent plea for “No More Strikes”.

“One of the ironies of the day in this country”, it says, “is that one of our greatest organized efforts, one which has always been the loudest in the denunciation of war between the nations, is insisting on its own right to use force in settling its difficulties.”

* * * *

And then it goes on to quote William Green on the right to strike. (Another of the ironies of the day, by the way). The argument runs as, follows: The nations (sic) have found that force is wasteful, futile. They have set up Kellogg Pact and a League of Nations to banish war from their midst. Why can’t the workers take an example from that?

There is the NRA. The NRA is concerned with the welfare of the workers as the League is with that of the nations (sic). Why not let NRA replace the strike as the League has replaced war?

* * * *

Still another of the ironies of the day! Even while those words were being printed, the noble example, which the American workers were to follow – received such a dislodging shock that there remains very little to follow. Germany split from the League of Nations with a “bombshell”. War talk and war preparations are again seizing a feverish world. A most unfortunate example.

* * * *

While the example is hardly worthy of pursuit, it does no doubt offer a resemblance. It is a resemblance worth a worker’s attention. Both the League of Nations and the NRA were born out of the despair wrought by wasteful destructive capitalistic competition. In the first case, among the various capitalist nations. In the second case, among the different capitalists in the United States. They were both meant to serve as a sort of a regulator of this competition.

* * * *

When the League was formed, the powerful capitalist United States refused to join. It believed it could contribute to the “welfare of the nations” on the outside, without international control.

When NRA went into effect, the richest single capitalist in the United States, Henry Ford, refused to join. He thought he could contribute to “industrial welfare” on the outside, without national control.

* * * *

Japan and Germany, two of the major powers, have bolted from the League. How soon will it be before the big capitalists will be bolting from NRA?

Why is the League blowing up? Because it is bound by the very laws of capitalism. Capitalism means ruthless competition. Capitalism is war, war of all against all. Capitalism signifies the perpetuation of the use of force. How could the League help blowing up? How can NRA help blowing up?

* * * *

The argument is really in favor of the use of the strike. As long as capitalism exists, peace among the nations is insecure. As long as capitalism and wage slavery, the demands of competition and the production for profit exist – just so long must hire and fire, unemployment, insecurity exist for workers. What better way has the worker to gain any measure of security, any degree of protection and improvement than by the collective, organized effort with his fellow workers – by the strike?

* * * *

In spite of the eloquent plea, in spite of the supplications of the NRA boosters, the workers are continuing to strike. They draw their conclusions from past examples. Some day they will draw a final conclusion. They will learn that there is no way of gaining welfare and of banishing war than by sweeping away the whole capitalistic system, with all its camouflages, with its League of Nation and NRA’s, with all its reign of force and terror. And they will do that by force. That will constitute one of the ironies of another day.

* * * *

And speaking of ironies, the greatest of all is perhaps the fact that the No More Strikes article in the Herald-Tribune is signed by none other than Ida M. Tarbell, the author of the History of the Standard Oil Company, a crusading muckraker and anti-Rockefeller campaigner of a past day ...

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