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Susan Green

Job Insecurity and Class Rule

Basis of Jewish Question

(19 October 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 42, 19 October 1942, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The would-be democrats who beat their chests, shout for race equality and put forth pet schemes to accomplish it, cut a ridiculous figure. Their schemes are as effective as a snowball in Hades because they tip-toe gingerly around the economic and class basis of race discrimination but do not dare to grapple with it.

One of the latest “contributions” on the question of anti-Semitism was a discussion in the newspaper PM by the novelist Pearl Buck of some warped ideas presented by W.M. Kiplinger in his book, Washington Is Like That. The subject-matter is Jews in government jobs.

Kiplinger, is of the opinion that “non-Jews, the 96 per cent of the population, should recognize that Jewish citizens are entitled to participate in government with the same rights as all other citizens.” On the, other hand, says Kiplinger, the Jews should remember that they are only 4 per cent of the total population – and should “AVOID AN EXCESSIVE LOADING OF THE GOVERNMENT WITH JEWISH CITIZENS.”

“If such good sense is shown by the 96 per cent and by the 4 per cent, PERHAPS EVENTUALLY this issue can be dissolved and become what it ought to be – no issue whatsoever.”

Thus Kiplinger.

What he does here is obvious. He is “solving” anti-Semitism by catering to it. Running a private news service for business men, he doubtless does not wish to rub any of them the wrong way. No wonder he is skeptical of his “solution” and dresses, it up with a “perhaps eventually.” Pearl Buck is absolutely right in declaring that Kiplinger is telling the Jews to “stay in your 4 per cent ghetto” in regard to government jobs.

Mrs. Buck states the case, against Kiplinger in the following:

“He does not face the question his facts themselves ask. What are the Jews going to do if private enterprise does not allow them jobs sufficient to feed them, and if they have to stay inside the 4 per cent ghetto? Obviously there will be many persons without jobs. No, unfortunately, this handful of facts does not add up to all the figures. To make them add up in this case, 4 per cent of all the jobs in the country ought to go to Jews. Anything less than this is not fair. You can’t ask people just quietly to starve in order to respect a prejudice against them.”

Then Mrs. Buck goes on to show how idiotic is this idea of allotting jobs on the percentage basis. The same would have to be done for the Protestants and Catholics, for Negroes, for women, for Italo-Americans, etc., etc. Society, of course, could not function on such artificial divisions. So Mrs. Buck does quite a good job in annihilating Kiplinger’s 4 per cent ghetto idea.

But what does she offer in its place? NOTHING, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!

In effect, all she does is to tell the anti-Semites that they ought to be ashamed of themselves and to scold them for helping Hitler “conquer the United States from within.”

This is neither going to the root of the problem nor offering a solution. As a matter of fact, all the pogrom-mongers and Jim Crow demagogues must feel considerably strengthened if the so-called leaders of race equality can do no better than Mrs. Buck.

The pogrom-monger knows what will draw a following. He shouts that the Jews have too many professional and other jobs, that they own too many stores, and so on. Similarly, the Jim Crow demagogue rants that too many Negroes are getting into better jobs. Always race hatred – be it against the Jew or against the Negro – rotates around the vital matter of jobs, around the question of making a living. Why?

Because capitalist society is a system of job insecurity, of not enough to live on – in the midst of plenty. Food, clothing, shelter and trimmings are things we must struggle for. The flow of the wherewithal of life is uncertain, unreliable, controlled by the idiosyncrasies of a system geared for making profits for the economic masters.

Fear of unemployment, of poverty, of starvation, of destitution has its clammy grip on the heart of all the people. That is why the big and little Hitlers can stir up Gentile against Jew, making the Gentile falsely believe that if the Jew is kicked out there will be more security for himself. In Germany the Jew has been kicked out – and the Gentile starves. The same would be true here, but fear tor the future plays wicked tricks on people.

Until we have a society that guarantees employment for all, and the free and constant flow of consumer goods to all, the Hitlers will be able to use the economic insecurity of the people to create anti-Semitism – and Jim Crowism.

You never heard anybody – no matter how anti-Semitic – claim that the Jews breathe too much air. And no representative of the ruling class interested in keeping the people divided could work up a pogrom on the basis of the Jews consuming too much air. Why? Because there is plenty of air for everyone.

Similarly, for example, with water. Our rulers, whose power continues only so long as the ruled are divided, could never get a spark of Jew-hatred out of the Gentile population by shouting that the Jews drink too much water and take too many baths. Why? Because society provides plenty of water for everyone – that minimum capitalist society does provide, even though it isn’t always hot.

That is why Labor Action summons all workers to end the capitalist system of economic insecurity and class rule. The fight against race discrimination and for job equality NOW for all workers – Jew and Gentile, black and white – must be fought tooth and nail. THAT GOES WITHOUT SAYING. But socialism alone is the true basis for the brotherhood of man. For socialism will end the brutal struggle for a crust of bread. It will free the economic forces from the deadening grip of capitalist profit-makers and make secure to all men all the good things of life.

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