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Henry Judd

Food: Its Use Will Be a Mighty Weapon

(December 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 49, 7 December 1942, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Food will be a mighty weapon and a powerful persuader in that crucial interval between war and peace when the future of the world will be decided.” (New York Timeseditorial, November 28)

Herbert Hoover, former President and World War I food administrator, has written recently, “agriculture must be envisioned as a munitions industry and treated as such.” In this statement he echoes the now familiar slogan, of the Roosevelt New Dealers and government administrators; “Food will win the war and write the peace.” How innocent and sweet-sounding are all these statements, editorial remarks and slogans issued by our leading spokesmen, as they spur on the American farmers to greater productive efforts.

Governor Herbert Lehman, leading figure in the Democratic Party and a member of the “Sixty-Family” Lehman Brothers – that filial organization of big shot financiers, investment brokers, bankers and finance-monopoly capitalists – has just been appointed by FDR to take charge of the “rehabilitation of Europe and other war-devastated areas”; to supply the starving and war-weary masses of the world with food, supplies, money to set their industries and economic life in order again, etc.

Food as a Military Weapon

Food, and everything that it implies – the ability to keep going, to live – is obviously a tremendous weapon in the hands of those who possess it. Europe is starving right now; it is not necessary to wait until the war is over to find hundreds of thousands of men, women and children who are starving, in addition to the tens of millions who are undernourished and hungry. In the economic chaos that will grip Europe with the downfall of the Hitler regime, the upsurge of national and revolutionary movements, the devastating invasion of the continent by the “democratic” forces, the starving condition of Europe will be intensified. Yes, food, the RIGHT to eat, will become (already has become) a dominant POLITICAL question!

This is what the New York Times means when it describes food as a “powerful persuader.” Do you want to eat? To go on living? Then you had better know which side your bread is buttered on! Are you with us? Then here’s a slice of bread, with a vitamin pill thrown in. Are you against us? Then eat cake!

Administrator Lehman, too, understands the use of food as a “persuader” and a weapon in the imperialist war. That is why he spoke, in his first statement upon acceptance of his new post, about American troops probably remaining in the countries they occupy (to keep law and order and hand out food to the deserving) for at least a year after the war is over and won. That is why he, too, emphasized the vast importance and significance of the whole question of post-war supplying and rehabilitation.

Food to Nourish Reaction

Although it is clear that the role of food and rehabilitation in World War II will be far more important than it was in the last war, America has already had one experience in which food was utilized to help bolster up reactionary and imperialist causes. Last time it was supervised by Herbert Hoover; this time it will be Herbert Lehman, with more authority and more important missions to perform. Hoover used American food to back up every reactionary clique and counter-revolutionary regime that attempted to seize power in the Central European and Balkan states during the revolutionary upheavals of Europe after the 1917 Russian Revolution.

The individuals are changed, but their goals are the same. Yes, America’s rulers will hand out food and supplies to those who give it full support and are willing to set up reactionary European governments – the de Gaulles, the Prince Ottos of Hapsburg, the Count Sforzas of Italy, the Darlans of France, the Queen Wilhelminas of Holland, the Mikhailovitches of imperialist Yugoslavia, etc. They will get food to stabilize their rule and provide a support for their reactionary governments, the better to do the bidding of Anglo-American imperialism. They will get food as a part of the deal between FDR and the reactionary monarchists, royalists, semi-fascists and diverse reactionaries who constitute, the so-called “governments-in-exile.”

But suppose the oppressed nationalities, the workers and peasants of the European Countries, refuse to accept FDR’s Gauleiters? Suppose, as we strongly suspect and hope, they ignore the de Gaulles and King Peters and establish THEIR OWN workers’, socialist, democratic rule, ousting the capitalists responsible for the war? Will they get food and reconstruction supplies IN THAT CASE? Or will they meet with the same hatred and opposition that the Russian people did in 1917 when they overthrew the Czar and established their workers’ and peasants’ government?

If it is up to FDR, Lehman and their fellow imperialists, the answer is obvious. Food only to those who support us; no food to revolutionary workers or revolutionary movements. The criteria? Capitalism and its private property!

Food as a Workers’ Weapon

FDR uses food, as an imperialist weapon; socialists use it as a revolutionary, working class weapon in the struggle for peace and an end to the war. This is why American workers must prepare to fight for the right of ALL European workers, poor people and peasants, to be fed, without any political strings attached. A workers’ government in America would have as one of its major objectives the helping of ALL its brothers in Europe; starving victims of a capitalist war they never wanted in the first place.

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