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William Gorman

Bruce Bliven

(March 1944)

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 13, 27 March 1944, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

In the New Republic of March 6 there is an article so exceptionally smelly it deserves some comment. It is entitled The Hang-Back Boys and was written by one of the editors, Bruce Bliven.

Written as a leading article, it lets out a blast at “ex-communists, socialists, Trotskyists, an ex-liberal editor, a Yale man, a labor publicist” and others. Bliven then makes general accusations, an old, easy and dirty trick. If he tried kicking any dog in particular, the dog might bite back.

Some samples:

“... A number of men who are refusing to take any real part in the struggle between fascism and democracy.”

“They no longer have any sort of program of their own, or if they have one it is indistinguishable from that of the tories.”

“While other men fight fascism in this country ... the hang-back boys are silent.”

“Some of these critics are surprisingly friendly to the State Department and speak very mildly of Badoglioism and Darlanism.”

We Answer for Ourselves

This writer won’t try answering for others, but we can say of the Trotskyists that, while the editors of the New Republic sit quietly in their offices the Trotskyites in Europe have suffered death and torture in the anti-fascist struggle. Also, unlike Bliven’s hero, President Roosevelt, we were never “close to the State Department” and we do plenty of justifiable yelling against “Darlanism and Badoglioism.” Last but not least we have a program, and not only is it distinguishable from that of the Tories, but it’s clearly different from the vagaries of the New Republic.

Bliven complains about the “I-hate-Russia boy’s.” We, on our part, don’t hate Russia as we don’t hate America. We simply hate the terrorizing, exploiting ruling class headed by Stalin. In the last war, Russia’s Czar also joined on the side of the Allies, but the Czar didn’t become a democrat as a result.

Then there’s some whining by Bliven that the “hang-back boys” are not taking a real part in this war between fascism and democracy. We think that the ruling classes of England, the United States and Russia have given the liberals plenty of proof how little democracy is involved in this war. That’s what leaves the liberals so frustrated. But why does BliVen let it out on us? Is it because we correctly labeled the war as imperialist from the very day it broke out?

Bliven says that we “talk darkly of secret commitments which were made at Teheran.” Does he know of any public commitments that were made at Teheran? Obviously since the whole show wasn’t held just to feed Churchill and Roosevelt some caviar, secret discussions, promises and commitments must have been made. Even some congressmen, who – God forbid – aren’t in our category have suspected the same thing.

As his best blast, Bliven accuses us of being a help to the Germans. Whom does Bliven think he’s helping in his support of the mass murder of German workers by bombings? He forgets too easily the facts of the First World War. For believing in proletarian internationalism during the First World War, Lenin was constantly slandered as a German agent. This did not deter him in the least from leading the Russian masses in their successful working class revolution which not only ended Czarism but which brought the war to an end and caused the Kaiser to abdicate.

Roosevelt’s Coattails

What bothers Bliven most is criticism of Roosevelt from the left. Thus he says that the left critics “... are opposed to the plan for compulsory national service, overlooking the fact that the President also opposes it, unless it is accompanied by measures to guarantee just treatment of labor.” The way Bliven swallows Roosevelt’s tall promises makes us gulp. Victor Riesel, a pro-Roosevelt writer on the New York Post, reported that Roosevelt told Murray and Green that he would NOT veto a slave labor act? And the President’s cabinet members, Stimson and Knox, spoke up for the slave labor act without even breathing a word about labor conditions. And General Marshll’s vicious anti-labor attack gave a foretaste of what is meant by a “guarantee” of just treatment to labor. Doesn’t Bliven read the papers or is he concentrating so desperately on Roosevelt’s coat-tails that he forgets what he reads in the papers?

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