Gordon Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page


Notes of the Week

(4 January 1934)

From The Militant, Vol. VII No. 1, 4 January 1934, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

WITH HIS MESSAGE TO CONGRESS, the president proved that he stands second to none in that brand of vituperation against the bankers which is at the same time very popular with the broad middle strata of the American people as well as conveniently inexpensive to the vituperative politicians themselves. Such language, coming as it does from the lips of the chief executive standing at the rostrum of the national legislature, makes the amateur demagogues like the Reverend Father Coughlin look like woeful pikers.

* * * *

Mr. Roosevelt classed the bankers in category (a) among the criminal element of the country. While the menace of the bootleggers and high-jackers, (category b.), he felt, was already being offset by the 21st amendment, “stringent preventive measures” were yet required to take care of the former. Yet! – half a year after the much publicized clean-up of the Senate investigation.

* * * *

An interesting comment on Franklin D.’s latest anti-Wall Street tirade was that of Kingfish Huey Long. The Senator from Louisiana is a fellow knight templar in the same crusade and he ought to be in the know. In reply to a question, Huey remarked: “It was alright ... not very specific”.

* * * *

But Mr. Roosevelt could not very well afford to be specific with “stringent preventive measures.” Such measures to be genuinely effective, would have to strike at the roots of that self-same social and economic system which the president himself represents and defends. Of this system of private property and production for profit – “modern society” as he calls it – the head of the government also had some very sharp critical words to say. Also, nothing specific insofar as a solution is concerned. He would eliminate waste, the “ruthless exploitation of labor”, speculation with other people’s money. He would save “mechanical invention, industrial efficiency, etc.” Public works would take care of the millions of unemployed in a generation or so ...

* * * *

A MORE SPECIFIC indication of how all this is to be done is offered in the example of the wood pulp industry, regarding which a bill is to be introduced in the current session of congress. We quote from the press:

“The plan involves putting all our domestic wood-pulp companies out of business for ten years. Their employees would be taken over by the Government to do reforesting instead of deforesting during that period. The companies themselves would be compensated by payments from the Government equal to their average annual earnings for the past ten years ...

“Then the government would import wood pulp from Russia ... These imports would not be paid for in cash but would be credited instead against the Kerensky or such other pre-Soviet debts as the Soviets choose to recognize ...

“Final step: The government sells its Russian wood pulp at a price sufficient to cover the costs of the plan ...

“Expected results:

“(1) Conservation of natural resources in the grand manner.

“(2) Recognition and part payment of debts everyone thought were dead.

“(3) The wheels of Russian trade speeded up.

“(4) American pulp companies would get more money for doing nothing (thereby joining in a body their various presidents, vice-presidents, etc. – Ed.) than they have earned in the past few years.

“(5) The labor involved to be employed in constructive projects.

“(6) The plan doesn’t cost the Government a penny ...

“(7) American newspapers will get their newsprint cheaper ...” (Evening Post, New York, December 28, 1933.)

* * * *

If the above plan works out, it can then be applied to the debts of the other European countries and provide a solution for all the other industries. “Expected result”: Our economic needs being thus taken care of and permitting our retirement from the respective professions, those of us who cannot like the wood pulp workers go in for horticulture and botany, can – to while away our time – take up ping pong, solitaire or Walter Lippman’s lectures on the New Deal.

* * * *

As for the Russians, they can have their fun running those Five Year Plans of Industrial construction. (Though, from the example of the wood pulp industry, it cannot be precisely told what they would get out of it.) And Stalin and Molotov may go on, for our part, leading the Soviet congresses in cheers for the propagators of such ... “courageous” plans.

* * * *

And the American newspapers – who will “get their newsprint much cheaper” – they can make a go of such a handicap and continue printing such solutions which will always remain, we fear, even much cheaper than the price of newsprint.

Gordon Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 9 February 2016