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Henry Judd

World Politics

Wallace’s “Marshall Plan”

(12 January 1948)

From Labor Action, Vol. 12 No. 2, 12 January 1948, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The issue of American foreign policy will unquestionably be one of the major – possibly the major – issues in the ’48 presidential election campaign. Nothing less than the historic perspective of American imperialism will be debated, and the different parties and candidates will take their stands. Candidate Wallace, in a favored position to raise hot issues, has recognized this and has for a long time pressed: it home. At Milwaukee on December 30, Wallace announced his seven-point “Wallace Plan” for European recovery (the heart of the foreign policy issue), in opposition to the government’s Marshall Plan.

The “Wallace Plan,” like all of Henry’s ideas and proposals, is a compendium of catch-all slogans, demagogy and solid, if alternative, imperialist strategy for America. Just as the entire Wallace movement represents the synthetic coming together of many diverse streams (Mid-west populist traditions; urban middle class and professional trends, liberal and working class anti-war currents – all whipped up into the semblance of a movement by the American Stalinist party), so does the seven-point Wallace foreign policy reflect the same characteristics:

Based on Anti-War Sentiment

The basic element of demagogy underlying Wallace’s program – not only foreign, but domestic – is that it appeals to the mass anti-war sentiments of our people, to the widespread and justified fear that the Truman program leads inevitably to war, but makes this appeal on a false, hypocritical and deceptive basis. That is, Wallace tells us his program will halt the trend to war and assure “peace.” Let us briefly see if this is the case, by examining his seven-point program.

Point 7 demands that no money be advanced for the purchase of military or war supplies. This, of course, is the ancient liberal myth that war is caused by “armaments” in overabundance. By now we have learned that total warfare means the marshalling of the entire productive apparatus and that weapons of war are merely the end products of a long process, which, when war approaches, can easily be set into motion.

Points 1 and 4 are directed against the plan to include Western Germany within the Marshall Plan scope. Aside from its relationship to the problem of Wallace’s attitude toward Russia (see below), it is clear that his demand that Germany be excluded, and that the Ruhr be placed under Big Four control, is nothing but an alternative imperialist plan for the domination and sweating of Germany and its people. Wallace, still adhering to the Morgenthau plan for Germany, wants that country to be allowed to rot indefinitely, regardless of its effect upon Europe. Is this a contribution to “peace”?

Points 2, 3 and 5 of the Wallace program contain his proposal to turn over the entire matter to the United Nation’s. This is demagogy at its lowest because it would simply mean the transfer of the entire struggle to another battlefield, that of the United Nations, The same contending powers would be present for, as everyone knows by now, the United Nations is nothing but an alternative and additional battlefield for the American-Russian world struggle.

Where is the peace content in Wallace’s alternative plan to that of Marshall? Does it propose administration of the funds and materials by European labor? Does it question the ability of capitalism, in any form or shape, to actually reconstruct and revive Europe? Does it put the alternative of a socialist reconstruction of Europe? In its theoretical construction, the Wallace Plan is devoid of any interest and would hardly be worth consideration. But this is not its true significance. That lies in the political meaning and practical implications of the proposals.

Is Wallace an Appeaser?

The loudest war-minded ideologists in America (Burnham, the editors of Partisan Review, The New Leader, etc.) scream that Wallace is an “appeaser” – he wishes to capitulate to and appease Russia as Chamberlain did and gave way to Hitler. Is this the case? The analogy between Chamberlain and Wallace is shallow and false. Chamberlain, leader of the fast weakening British Empire and a declining Britain, appeased – for a time – out of weakness. He played the imperialist strategy dictated by time and circumstances. What can this have in common with the type of appeasement proposed by Wallace, would-be champion of the mightiest and still-growing imperialism our world has ever seen? Does Wallace “fear” Stalin, as the Umbrella Man feared Hitler? It is absurd.

But yet we are willing to call Wallace an “appeaser” of Russian imperialism, if by that is meant that the essence of his program is to come to terms with Russia, short of war. On what basis? A division of the world between American and Russian imperialism, with America taking the lead in this settlement by making certain definite concessions to Stalin such as, for example, a share in the Ruhr, a share in American capital export, a free hand in the Balkans and Eastern Europe, etc. Wallace, then, represents that section or thought of American imperialism which believes that war between America and Russia is neither necessary nor inevitable; that the two powers can successfully divide up the world and live in “peace”; that Stalin, by concrete concession, can be won to this point of view. Wallace offers an alternative strategy to American imperialism, rather than the strategy of Truman. If we wish to call this “appeasement” – a risky word at best – then we must simultaneously make clear its imperialist roots too, just as clearly as in the case of the war ideologists. This will be a major job of Labor Action during the coming campaign months.

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