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Notes of the Week

(4 November 1933)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 50, 4 November 1933, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Who Are the “Chiselers”?

A substantial part or the president’s last radio address was devoted to vituperation against the “chiselers”. Although, as members of the working class we have always been against this chiseling system – of capitalism – we cannot help pointing out thee injustice of this attack in itself.

* * * *

For who, after all, are these particular “chiselers”? They are, in the main, the small bosses, the peanut businessmen. They are, for instance, the social prop of that big hulf [?] of Mid-Western rebellion. They are the boys who live in deadly dread of big time competition.

* * * *

Take the Swopes, the Owen Youngs, the steel magnates and the textile barons. A “fair code of competition” – that is just their meat. They have big capital reserves, tremendous credit resources, gigantic mass production facilities. They have hosts of lawyers to wind their way out of any “labor provisions “. What chance has the poor little chiseler to keep pace with them? He has to live and produce on a hand-to-mouth proposition. The bank is down on his neck every minute of the day. The legal sharp charges exorbitant fees. Can he help lengthening hours and cutting wages. Can he do anything but perpetuate the sweatshops and skin his neighbor?

Not if he wants to keep his place under the capitalist sun. And yet, NRA or no NRA, he feels it in his veins – that sun is setting for him.

* * * *

Hearst to the Rescue

The NRA obviously hastened the eclipse of small fry in business and industry. No doubt the real framers of it made “reorganization and centralization of business” one of the main objectives. The little fellows felt it.

* * * *

When Mr. Ford bucked up against the big bad wolf, he became their idol. Mr. Ford, of course, had no need of a “code of fair competition”. There are no small fry to wipe out in his field.

* * * *

Now Mr. Hearst comes to their rescue. And that’s encouraging for them.

“The blighting effect of NRA policy”, says the white hope of the middle class, “has been so complete that a justifiable interpretation of the letters NRA would make them read appropriately, ‘No Recovery Allowed.’”

* * * *

The Hearst newspaper chain was among the first to back Roosevelt and boost the New Deal. Its present defection is, therefore, a blow with an extra sharp sting to it.

* * * *

Which Way Is the New Wind Blowing?

While it reflects a widespread movement, the Hearstian pronunciamento no doubt has aims of its own. Mr. Hearst is a jingo patriot of the first water. And he is circumspect in his patriotism.

He backed the New Deal in its efforts to harness American capitalism to a single aim – national concentration in the preparation for a new lunge at the world market.

When the national concentration of capital reached a point where it threatens the political concentration he balks. The small businessman is the indispensible prop in case of war, the middle class is the final resort of Big Business in case of a workers’ rebellion.

* * * *

“It imposed,” runs Mr. Hearst’s indictment against the NRA, “upon industry, struggling towards recovery, shorter hours and higher pay and greater employment ... than industry was able to bear (sic).”

* * * *

There you have a successor to NRA: the remedy is a return to longer hours, less pay and lesser employment. If the small businessman can’t bear the burden, the worker can!

* * * *

This great vision is dubbed by Mr. Hearst : “Back to Democracy”. Mark Sullivan, the Tory correspondent of the N.Y. Tribune, thinks that its proponents should be called the “new liberals”

* * * *

A London news dispatch says that the speculators there have become so cynical, every time there is some new declaration about the soundness of currency or business – they rush to sell short. Every time the boss class and their press lackeys begin to talk about “Back to Democracy” and “Liberalism”, it’s a cinch there’s a big club hidden somewhere for the workers.

* * * *

As to the Workers

The NRA – like the League of Nations – is tumbling. The worker who wants to keep his shirt on his back had better join a union. And get his fellow workers to join. It’s going to be a tough fight, from the looks of things. And it’ll take all of those 10,000,000 new members Bill Green has been talking about, to hold our own.

Bill Green is just talking. It’s up to you and you to do the job, Green and no Green. Working class unity – for higher wages, for the six hour day, five day week; for unemployment insurance – there is the first step to get rid of chiselers and chiseldom.

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