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E.R. McKinney

“Its a Fascist Measure!” Cries Murray, But ...
Refuses to Organize a Fighting Labor Protest

(16 June 1947)

From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 25, 16 June 1947, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The speech of Philip Murray at the CIO rally against the Taft-Hartley Bill was an extraordinary utterance. Murray said that formerly the “courts were against us and the employers were against us,” but "we fought it out then in the courts.” Murray went on to say that “now the government initiates the injunction. That makes the government a strikebreaker. That throws the worker against his government.”

And so, according to Murray, there is some fundamental difference, now. Before, the employer initiated the injunction in the court and labor fought it out with the employer without the intervention of what Murray calls “the government.” If we accept this we are accepting the myth that the courts are not part of the government. This is very dangerous stupidity. The government is a unit: Congress, President and courts. All three branches of the government have the same basic function and play the same basic role: the protection and maintenance of capitalism and capitalist society.

The function and the role of the courts, the President and of Congress is to protect the class interests of the capitalist ruling class and to strengthen the domination of this class over the working class. That is the meaning of the Taft-Hartley Bill. Should Truman veto the bill, not a word of what is said here will need to be changed. If Roosevelt were still alive and President, not a word would have to be changed. In all his campaigns Roosevelt pounded this idea into the heads of the ruling class. It was there as big as day for the labor bureaucrats to see but they are blind men, astoundingly stupid men, men who are more receptive to ideas coming from the capitalist class than to ideas from the militants in the labor movement.

On Friends of Labor

Truman may veto the bill but this will not and cannot make Truman a friend of labor. It will make him a friend of Truman’s presidential aspirations and of the factional interests of the Democratic Party. Should Truman veto the bill it will be because he believes that this step is necessary in order to hold the labor vote and the vote of the South for the, Democratic Party in 1948. Taft and the Republicans know that they must depend on the middle class of the cities and rural areas and the most conservative workers. The Taft-Hartley Bill is a sop to these groups.

Murray said that there is “venom” and “hatred” in this bill. Perhaps. But we have our doubts about any appreciable measure of hatred. Venom yes, but not so much hatred as the determination to protect the interests of the capitalist class. Murray may get this into his head some day.

Murray said that the bill “strikes at the heart of democracy.” What does this mean? Whose democracy does the bill strike at? Does the bill take any democratic rights from the employers? Or from any section of the capitalist ruling class? Of course not. This bill strengthens the hold of the capitalist ruling class on its own capitalist democracy. And that’s- the kind of “democracy” we live under: capitalist democracy; the democracy of private property and private profit, of exploitation; democracy whose outstanding feature is the rule of the minority who own and take the profits.

This reign of the capitalist class will continue so long as the working class permits it, so long as labor’s struggle is in the hands of the Murrays and the Greens, so long as labor is not politically organized with a labor program, a labor party and a workers’ government. Only under workers government can labor have anything which can be called genuine democracy, that is, the rule of the majority; without Taft-Hartley bills, exploitation and oppression.

More Than “Endure”

Murray said that in spite of this bill, “this American labor movement will endure.” Of course it will, but Murray doesn’t know why. His and Green’s activities during the passage of the Taft-Hartley Bill through Congress and today are not the kind of actions which will cause the labor movement to endure. The labor movement will endure -because capitalism must have labor or it cannot operate. The class struggle itself throws workers together in dependence on one another, producing organization for mutual protection. Furthermore, the capitalist does not want to get rid of the unions. Especially so long as they are lead by men of the type of Green, Murray and the others. The capitalists today are reconciled to the notion of working with organized labor. They only want a labor movement which will submit to a Taft-Hartley Bill.

The capitalists are correct: such a labor movement will “endure.” But of what service to the working class is a labor movement which merely endures? That should be clear now. The labor movement must do more than “endure,” it must move forward; forward to the organization of the, whole working class, forward to increased militancy, to independent working class political action; forward to the dismantling of capitalism and capitalist society and the establishment of the socialist society.

The most astounding part of Murray’s speech was his statement: “It is a fascist measure and indisputably so.” First of all, the bill is not a fascist measure and when Murray closes with his “indisputably so,” he only compounds his own ignorance and adds lamentably to the confusion and unclarity already in the ranks of labor on important and serious political issues. To play around, in such an irresponsible manner, with the question of fascism is a really criminal procedure. This is especially true right after Hitler with his concentration camps, gas chambers and all the other horrors of the fascist regimes. If the Taft-Hartley Bill wer.e a fascist measure, that is, if the country had gone that far away from capitalist democracy, Murray would not have been standing in Madison Square Garden making that speech unmolested. He ought to get this simple truth in his head.

On Fighting Fascism

This aspect of the question of fascism is extremely important but there is something else. If the Taft-Hartley Bill is a “fascist measure,” how is it that Murray and the labor leaders have done nothing more than wait for a presidential veto? Is this Murray’s conception of the way to fight fascism? Doesn’t he know that if the ruling class in this country is ready for fascism, it would not be deterred by a presidential veto? Doesn’t he know that Truman would be sent to a concentration camp if he did not submit, along with Murray and all the leaders of labor?

The bill is a “fascist measure” but Murray did not even call on the workers to put on a mass protest; he did nothing. This is a queer way to fight fascism and particularly after labor’s experiences with Hitler and Mussolini. We want to tell Murray right now that long before any real “fascist measures" are introduced into Congress, the fascists will have been organized and prepared to take over. We want to tell Murray that long before bills are introduced the fascists will be running wild in the streets, breaking up workers’ meetings and committing other depredations. We want to tell him, the whole labor bureaucracy and above all the workers, that labor will have to fight in the streets and armed, against the fascist gangs. A postal card, a letter or a Madison Square Garden meeting is a woefully impotent and pitiable activity to use as a measure against a “fascist measure.”

The Workers Party has proposed a March on Washington and a 24-hour stoppage. If the Taft-Hartley Bill were a fascist measure, that certainly would not be enough. A far different type of organization and far more drastic action would be called for. But Murray doesn’t even do that; and yet he says that the Taft-Hartley Bill is “indisputably” a “fascist measure.”

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