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Dwight Macdonald

Labor Action Bookshelf

(May 1941)

From Labor Action, Vol. 5 No. 19, 12 May 1941, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Assassination of Leon Trotsky
by Albert Goldman
74 pages, 15 cents. Pioneer Publishers, 116 University Place, New York City

When Leon Trotsky was brutally murdered in his home in Mexico City last summer, practically the whole American press, with the exception of the Stalinist papers (and the undercover Stalinoid PM) attributed the crime to the agents of Stalin. Many a worker, with a well-founded suspicion of the American press, no doubt thought to himself at the time: “Sounds logical, but how do I know the papers aren’t doing some more red-baiting? There’s no black-and-white PROOF that Stalin and the GPU were behind it.”

This proof now exists, in the form of this excellent little pamphlet by Albert Goldman, well known labor lawyer and legal adviser of Trotsky up to his death. As counsel for Trotsky’s widow, Goldman made a thorough investigation of the crime on the scene, and took part in the examination of “Frank Jacson,” the murderer. Here he gives the result of his investigation in a wealth of detail, much of it never before made public.

He piles up the evidence and shows beyond any reasonable doubt that

  1. Jacson’s explanation of how he came to commit the murder is a crude lie from beginning to end,
  2. Jacson himself is not what he claims to be, and
  3. here is a mountain of evidence – including certain slips in Jacson’s “confession,” the origin of his passport, and his inability to explain the source of the large funds he possessed – to link him up with the one man in the whole world who had most to gain from Trotsky’s death, the man whose agents tried to shoot Trotsky earlier in the summer, the man whose orders sealed the fate of one after another of Trotsky’s family and household – namely, Josef Stalin, well described by Trotsky himself as “the Borgia of the Kremlin.”

This pamphlet, which should be put in the hands of every honest supporter of the Communist Party in this country (and there are, unfortunately, many such), closes the case of Leon Trotsky against the bloody, barbarous masters of the Soviet Union today. The charge, Murder. The verdict, Guilty!

Labor and National Defense
143 pages, $1.00. Twentieth Century Fund, 330 West 42nd Street, New York City

This survey, prepared by a group of economists, is valuable as a thorough, reasonably unbiased and up-to-date study of what the effect of the Roosevelt war program has been to date on America labor, and what it is likely to be in the future. Its main findings can be summed up:

  1. A few months ago, economists were predicting that even when the war production program got going 100 per cent, there would still be considerable unemployment. Since then, however, the program has been so greatly expanded that unemployment will he wiped out by the middle of 1942.
  2. This liquidation of unemployment is only relative, however. Actually, because of the chaotic, planless nature of capitalist production, there will always be shortages in one industry or region and surpluses of labor in another, so that, the survey estimates, even at peak war production, “there may be one or two million unemployed.”
  3. The demand will be mostly for workers, with some degree of skill. “It is estimated that about 35 per cent of the men demanded will be skilled workers. 40 per cent semi-skilled and 25 per cent unskilled.”
  4. It is interesting to note that this committee of bourgeois economists makes two recommendations which were pushed very hard several months ago by the CIO (and which were killed by the dollar-a-year men):
  1. “Formation of management-worker committees in all defense industries”;
  2. “wider distribution of defense orders and more extensive use of subcontracting.”
  1. The survey takes up at length the delicate question of strikes. It concludes that “friction” is bound to continue in future, since in most of the key war industries – steel, rubber, automobiles, oil, chemicals, etc. – the unions are young (post-1933) and in the midst of aggressive organizing campaigns.
  2. It comes out against any outlawing of strikes or compulsory arbitration on the realistic grounds that past experience has shown that such measures just don’t work, that strikes go on just the same. “Strikes in democratic countries can be prevented only by agreement between employers and workers – not by law,” write the learned economists. This is true enough. But it doesn’t seem to occur to these wise men that, when and if the bosses have to choose between strikes and democracy on the one hand, and the survival of their system on the other, they will not choose ... strikes. This choice seems to be a long way off right now. The current strategy of the bosses, which this study of course reflects, is to go easy on labor, to retreat from the extreme measures which were being advocated in Congress five or six weeks ago. But labor shouldn’t deceive itself. This is not spring, but Indian summer, and the winter of fascism will surely come unless the workers fight with redoubled militancy in the future.

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