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Herman Benson

Real Labor Politics Requires a Labor Party!

(26 April 1948)

From Labor Action, Vol. 12 No. 17, 26 April 1948, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

In their feeble vision, the members of the International Executive Board of the United Automobile Workers, now solidly in the hands of the pro-Reuther bloc, have conjured up a weird resolution on political action in preparation for the 1948 elections. The resolution unambiguously repudiates Wallace, among other things, because “all attempts to build a political party from the top around a particular individual are pre-doomed to dismal failure” and because the Wallace movement “exposes labor to the self-defeating course of supporting false friends in order to prevent the election of declared enemies.”

Therefore? The executive board declares itself firmly in favor of the “defeat of reactionaries” and the election of so-called progressives, or true friends. And to ensure the triumph of the Democratic Party which they support in the ’48 elections they have discovered that one man and one man alone can guarantee victory – General Dwight D. Eisenhower – and they are now pounding their heads to obtain his nomination at the Democratic national convention. This is known as the “boom” or “beating of drums” for Eisenhower.

Only one possibility exists to get them out of the strange dilemma which finds them supporting in Dwight what they reject in Henry. If by some quirk of symmetrical justices the Republican Party could be induced to nominate General Douglas A. MacArthur for president, the imaginative UAW leadership might be persuaded to abandon the election slogan which they apparently realize is worn out: “support the lesser of two evils.” The new one could be “vote for the greater of two generals.”

Digging and Clinging

Act II of the farce: August Scholle, president of the Michigan CIO, announces, with a straight face, that the Michigan CIO-PAC in view of the critical situation will absolutely abandon its previous, well-established “non-partisan” political policy.

A ringing call must be issued: we will join the Democratic Party. There, he continues, we will “dig in” and“cling.” Not because we want to dominate, he adds, but simply because, as the vast majority of the voting population, we are entitled to some recognition. Surely a modest request!The Democratic ward-heelers reply: we will not accept this CIO “dictatorship.” Ungrateful beasts that they are, they begrudge Scholle the very mud in which he grovels. But perhaps we do Scholle an injustice. After all, things will be tough enough. The PAC has been living long enough with the cigar-chewing Democratic punks; it will look nicer if the marriage ceremony is performed. Especially since there is now some new suitor in the field.

Scholle is a candidate for delegate to the Democratic national convention. In 1944, R.J. Thomas, then president of the UAW, went as a Democratic delegate. Reuther has been playing with the same idea recently for the ’48 convention; but, it is reported, he has finally abandoned it. At least one reason for this change in plans is a desire on his part to make a concession to the easily satisfied pro-labor party elements on his executive board.

The political action resolution of the UAW is a compromise between the right wing and the more militant wing of the Reuther coalition. In return for acceptance in action now of the old line of supporting phony “progressives” in the Democratic Party, the right wing has signed a promissory note, written no doubt in disappearing ink, that some time in the future it will support the formation of a new, mass party.

Emil Mazey, who is the leading silent spokesman of the pro-labor party forces in the top leadership and who is the secretary-treasurer of the union, obviously has been one of the participants in this rotten compromise which justifies the capitulation of today by the hypothetical promise of a better tomorrow. This was to be expected of Mazey, who himself endorsed the anti-labor Jeffries as the lesser evil candidate for Mayor of Detroit in the last elections. Mazey today spends his time boasting of stabilizing the financial status of the union while its political status is in a dizzy whirl.

Blindman’s Bluff

The pro-Stalinist grouping in the UAW is preparing for an attempted comeback although they have lost some ground in recent local elections. Wallace-for-president clubs are being formed in the locals. These clubs which will profit from the total, abysmal, and obvious repulsiveness of the old line political policies of the CIO, will inevitably gain sympathy and support for the almost discredited old anti-Reuther bloc. This“natural” course of events is helped along by the general blindness of the present officialdom.

A series of anti-democratic attacks on the pro-Wallace forces and provocative lynch-inviting speeches by the new Detroit chief of police, a “strong” man who intends to act ruthlessly against hoodlums, union “reds,” and delinquent teenagers met with no formal protest from the labor leadership. We have not even heard of a single resolution of simple solidarity with the mine strikers. No, the attention of the anti-Stalinist union brass hats is concentrated on trying to effect a bureaucratic removal of the present pro-Stalinist leadership of the Wayne County CIO Council.

All this in the name of supporting the Marshall Plan. These myopic creatures, wandering in the dark with blinders over their eyes, want to blaze a big path in world affairs. But they can’t even find their way along the neighborhood lanes.

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