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Henry Judd

Propaganda – What America Says to the Axis World

(November 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 44, 2 November 1942, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Propaganda is supposed to be a weapon to aid the military and economic forces of a country at war. America has organized a vast machine broadcasting and speaking to the Axis world. What does it have to say?

The “Little Flower” Speaks to Rome

This week we learned that Mayor LaGuardia, the battling dynamo of New York, has been broadcasting to the Italian people. In between the cuss words (“swachime,” “sfunjas,” etc.) the Mayor has a few things to say to these people. For instance, he tells them that the decrepit, armchair and stupid King of Italy is all right and should be put back into power over Il Duce! Then – and this is guaranteed to make the Italian people leap with jittery joy – he brags about the fact, that soon American bombers will be roaring over the great Italian cities, blasting them to bits, and finally, American soldiers and troops will enter the country! All this, undoubtedly, will win millions of Italian supporters!

The reports of the Little Flowers speeches verify what was printed in the American New Leader (an arch-patriotic paper which claims a slight allegiance to socialism) some weeks back. According to these reports, the Italian people were being regaled with insulting broadcasts, delivered in poor Italian by men who threatened and abused them. So much for propaganda to Italy.

And Germany?

No material has been published about what FDR and his fellow war leaders, are saying to Germany. This is curious indeed. Isn’t it rather important for the American people to know what FDR is saying to the German workers and Germany? After all, they are being called upon to die in the imperialist war. They ought to have some idea of what sort of government Roosevelt-Churchill propose to set up in Germany after the war is over. But nothing is said.

Still, we have every reason, to strongly suspect that the broadcasts to Germany take on the same tone that the infamous broadcasts of the Englishman, Lord Vansittart, do. They undoubtedly threaten the division and virtual extinction of the German people; the imposition of an even more severe and brutal Versailles Treaty and the occupation of that country by the armed troops of the United Nations.

America’s propagandists (for reasons we’ll take up below) have the idea that the way to “propagandize” (that is, influence) the enemy’s ranks and break down their morale is by threatening them with calamity and doom if they don’t join you, immediately. As to WHY they should join you, not a word!

And That Addressed to the Japanese

But most incredible and most reactionary of all has been the Japanese-addressed propaganda, Labor Action has in its possession a public duplicate of a small booklet that was dropped from the bombers that raided Tokyo and the other Japanese cities many months ago.

This booklet (very attractively and colorfully printed) consists of pictorial and graphic comparisons of American resources with Japanese resources. On page one, the huge size of America is compared with the minute size of the Japanese island empire; manpower resources, railway mileage, gold wealth, farm production, coal capacity, the number of telephones, timber reserves, fish (the Japanese are given the edge on this), oil wells, automobiles, iron and steel production, electricity, shipping, etc., are all compared, Naturally, in every instance except that of fish, America is vastly superior to Japan.

The Japanese worker is ground down by a brutal, fascist and totalitarian war regime that subjects him to iron discipline. The Japanese war-mongers and imperialists, however, tell him that all this is necessary because Japan is so poor, has so little “living space” and the other nations that surround it are so rich by comparison. The Mikado says that the Japanese people are fighting for their lives against mighty rivals who have everything, while we, the Japanese, have nothing.

Now, this lying and demagogic propaganda of the Japanese capitalists and imperialists is verified and substantiated by the Americans! What more could the Japanese militarist ask for? He can now go to his people and say in effect: “See! What I told you is true! We have nothing; they have everything. Roosevelt himself says so. That’s why we are JUSTIFIED in our war of conquest. Why should they (the white men) have so much and we nothing?” Nothing could have done more to solidify the Japanese people and drive them closer into the hands of their own reactionary and fascist government than this type of propaganda.

Why This Propaganda?

The same message, in varying degrees, goes to all the peoples of the Axis countries. Why? Is it because of stupidity on the part of those in charge in Washington? Is it because the Axis propagandists are so much “smarter” than ours?

No. It is because this propaganda is a logical consequence and embodiment of the TYPE OF WAR that America is conducting – a war of conquest, a war of occupation – in a word, a war of imperialism.

American imperialism cannot appeal to the Axis people on REVOLUTIONARY grounds since this is not its war aim. It can only threaten and boast and brag and then abuse the down-trodden people of the fascist regimes. This is not merely “bad” propaganda; it is reactionary, imperialist propaganda, revealing in its nakedness the meaning and purpose of this war for plunder and colonial spoils.

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