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Paul G. Stevens

In the World of Labor

(7 July 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 48, 7 July 1939, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

New Anti-Conscription Slogan: “Cigarettes for Our Boys!”

Not so long ago we mentioned in these columns the odd fact that French Stalinists and British Stalinists were openly at variance with regard to the proposal to introduce conscription in Great Britain. The Paris Humanité (official organ of the C.P.F.), in line with the Daladier government, had urged support for the proposal. William Gallacher, lone C.P. representative in the House of Commons, had openly repudiated his French colleagues, when Government spokesmen cited them in parliament.

In this country, Mr. V.J. Jerome wrote a lengthy piece of Jesuitical tripe for the Daily Worker, “explaining” why the C.P.F. was for conscription in France and why the C.P.G.B. was opposed to it in England and why both were right.

Gallacher wrote in the British Stalinist sheet: “I am absolutely opposed to conscription and to those who are behind it ... It is the cruelist thing imaginable for fathers and mothers who sacrificed for years to give their boys education and apprentice training to find them being handed over to the ‘Brass Hats’!”

But all that was a month or two months ago. The professions of opposition are not worth the paper they were written on any more. The “dispute” between Gallacher and the Humanité has turned out to be nothing more than the type of highjinks that the lackeys of the Stalintern are required to engage in while each carries out, according to the particular local need, the “general line” of the Kremlin.

For the C.P.G.B.’s fight against conscription has ended, now that conscription is a fact, with the slogan: “Send the Boys Cigarettes,” in the very best tradition of the old ladies’ patriotic societies. Here Is how the British Daily Worker puts it on May 27, 1939:

“Next Saturday the Youth who are liable for military training will register at the Labor Exchanges. A few days later many of them will commence training ...

“‘Keep in touch with our lads’ must be the slogan of the working class. Why should not every trade union and youth organization have its committee which will keep in touch with the boys, send them cigarettes, books and papers, and give them all the news from the workshops, and from the organizations of which they are members ...”

That’s what the pseudo-fight against conscription has come to. It only remains for the “Brass Hats” to decree just what newspapers books, and how many cigarettes the boys are to be sent. The lickspittles are always ready to comply – subject to approval from the Kremlin. And Kremlin Joe should worry ...

“Democratic” Government Terror Rages in Syria

A large number of native Syrian militants have been languishing in government prisons for three months. They are charged with “conspiracy against the French army.”

What is their “crime?” On March 8, on the occasion of the anniversary of the declaration of Syrian independence, they made speeches reaffirming their faith in the treaty of 1936. According to this treaty, French imperialism was preparing to grant Syria its independence within two years. Of course, it has met with the fate of most treaties under imperialism. It has become a scrap of paper.

Like their fellow French colonials in Tunis these Syrian militants are kept in the prisons without the benefit of a trial. Most of them have contracted frightful diseases as a result of their long imprisonment. Some of them, like Munir Rayes, who suffers from facial paralysis, are in danger of their lives. The French anti-imperialist fighters are working for their liberation.

Carrying the “White Man’s Burden” in South Africa: 1939 Style

His brow wrinkled by the cares of the “white man’s burden,” the current Minister of Labor in the Union of South Africa, explains in the Johannesburg Star:

“Information at the disposal of the Department of Labor shows that the movement towards organization (of native workers) is growing and that a number of so-called ‘trade unions’ are in existence ... In the absence of State recognition, control or protection, the native worker is liable to fall into the hands of an undesirable type of organizer.”

And so the government kindly condescends to offer the native worker “some form” of recognition. But he is not, god forbid, to be recognized as an “employee” under the existing laws for “it would entitle the native to full trade union status and representation on industrial councils side by side with European employers and employees.” And that must never be. For, in that case, the black workers might make common cause with the white workers and thus absolve the minister and fellow-imperialists of his “white man’s burden” all too quickly.

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