Art Preis Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Joseph Keller

Philip Murray – Self Made Man

(28 June 1948)

From The Militant, Vol. 12 No. 26, 28 June 1948, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

CIO President Philip Murray has climbed up there with the “rags to riches” boys. His autobiographical success story, If We Pull Together, is featured in the June issue of American Magazine, a monthly devoted mainly to the glorification of “self-made” business tycoons.

Murray’s right between the covers with the well-heeled citizens who build the American Magazine’s circulation with their modest descriptions of how they got rich by hard work, intelligence, character, patriotism and other virtues – not to mention their talents for squeezing labor and turning over a fast buck.

Like most American Magazine success stories, Murray’s suffers the minor omission of the most significant details, like how he succeeded John L. Lewis in the CIO presidency by playing politics with a certain U.S. President known’ as the “unofficial leader of the American labor movement.”

All Murray tells us of his career from the time Lewis put him on his payroll to the present day is modestly contained in the few words:

“Position and power likewise hold no lure. I have never played politics to gain or hold a union office, and I never will. Naturally, I’m proud to have had a hand in creating the Congress of Industrial Organizations and in organizing the United Steelworkers of America ...”

Certainly, Murray is too modest in omitting from his personal success story his most recent achievement – getting the steelworkers convention to boost his salary $5,000, to $25,000 per annum, after his failure to get the membership even a cent more in wages.

We can understand better why Murray rates space in the American Magazine when we read the conclusions of his article. There we learn the ideas which have made Murray the “labor statesman” he admits he is.

“Today, progressive businessmen regard their workers, not as antagonists, but as welcome partners ... They accept trade unionism ... In the steel industry, especially, we have found that the free and frank exchange of ideas by management and labor at all levels has generated a better spirit and better understanding of our mutual problems.”

That after the steel moguls had just slapped the steel union in the face with a flat rejection of any wage increase!

We read on to the bitter end to find out that Murray does not offer “a ‘class’ program” because, you see, “we have no classes in this country; that’s why the Marxist theory of the class struggle has gained so few adherents. We’re all workers here.”

Now isn’t that nice. The parasite billionaires who own the steel industry and live off the labor of the workers are really in the same class as the workers they exploit. The Taft-Hartley Law isn’t “class legislation,” as even Truman termed it. The strike struggles that have engulfed this country, rising to a crescendo in the past three years, are just “misunderstandings.” The heirs of the Morgan, Rockefeller, Astor, Vanderbilt, Mellon, DuPont and other giant fortunes are just “honest toilers.”

Yes sir! “America is still the land of opportunity” – even with an atomic war on the horizon, monopolies in the saddle, inflation blowing up the economy, the draft due in 90 days, and strikebreaking injunctions the law of the land. After all, hasn’t Murray – the one-time pit boy – made the American Magazine!

Preis Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 2 February 2022