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William Gorman

Pepper Visit to California Adds Spice to Local Political Stew

(30 September 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 39, 30 September 1946, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

SAN FRANCISCO – Senator Claude Pepper’s visit to the West Coast has added some spice to the local political stew. Upon his arrival, the press reported that the Florida senator was tossing his hat into the ring as the “liberal” candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1948. Wallace, who was the previous darling of the Stalinist-liberal combination, seems to be losing the favor of the Stalinists.

On the other hand, Pepper has only recently completed a long pilgrimage through Russia and was even privileged enough to meet Stalin. Pepper came here to preach that Stalin’s price for “peace’’ – the Dardanelles, the Balkans, Manchuria and Persian oil – was perfectly reasonable. He also added something that all workers should know and that Labor Action readers have known for a long time: that Stalinist Russia is not the socialist Russia of Lenin and Trotsky, and that Stalin has no desire to establish world socialism.

But while Pepper preoccupied himself with defending Russian imperialism, his courage or memory failed him on a most important local question in the coming California election – the State Fair Employment Practices Committee. This issue, which comes up in public referendum on Election Day, is of real importance to the hundreds of thousands of Mexicans, Negroes and workers of other minorities who live in this state. Little wonder! For Pepper, the proud New Dealer, was re-elected in Florida only on the basis of a Jim Crow program!

Senator Pepper’s reception points up the political situation in this state. Not one bigwig of the Democratic Party machine came out to greet him. His meetings were sponsored by the National Citizens Political Action Committee, which in this area is a Stalinist front organization. The Democratic Party here is torn apart by the fight between the old machine politicos and the Stalinist leadership of the CIO. Due mainly to the conflict between Russian and American imperialism on a world scale, these two groups are growing ever further apart in the state. The state Democratic chairman, James Roosevelt, was elected to his post only after a bitter fight because of his known connections with the Stalinists. On being elected, young Roosevelt severed all connections with the Stalinist front organizations. The Stalinists thus got slapped as a reward for their political efforts.

But if the Stalinists got slapped, it is the workers of California who are taking the real beating. All the double-dealing and deceitful machinations of the Stalinists and the Democratic Party hacks haven’t frozen prices or built houses or halted discrimination.

Victory for Warren

In the recent primary, Attorney General Kenny, a “liberal” with a national reputation, couldn’t even win the Gubernatorial Democratic nomination in the primaries. Governor Warren, with little except a genial smile to recommend him, swept the Democratic and Republican tickets. Warren then puts in an “unexpected” visit to the Labor Day parade of the AFL. This is a good enough indication that some of the AFL leaders can be expected to act as vote-catchers for the Republican Party while the Stalinists in the CIO will do the same for the Democratic Party. The net result will be that a crew of capitalist politicians will be entrenched in office and the workers will be farther away from the solution of their pressing problems than before.

The workers in this state who fought militant strike battles in the machine shops, canneries, maritime, and transit can avoid being sold down the river each election year. In 1934 the San Francisco general strike was a signal to the American workers that the only way to fight wage-slashing and union-busting was by militant, large-scale strike actions. In 1946 the workers of California can take the lead in demonstrating to all the workers that the only way to fight inflation and union-busting is by building an independent Labor Party NOW.

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