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Gertrude Show

Things Crazy and Not So Crazy ―

(14 September 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 37, 14 September 1942, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

In his speech before the International Students’ Assembly on September 3, President Roosevelt used many fine-sounding words. For instance, he spoke of the “hope for a new life that can be lived in freedom, in justice and decency.”

The hope for a new life that can be lived in freedom in justice and decency is not crazy. What is crazy is to suppose that such a life can come through an imperialist war. THAT IS MADNESS.

There are many ways of proving that to expect a shining new world at the end of the war is to have a bad case of bats in the belfry. One way of proving this is to put Harold L. Ickes, Mr. Roosevelt’s own Secretary of the Interior, on the stand.

In a recent article in Collier’s magazine, Mr. Ickes made no bones about the whys and the wherefores of the war. “Germany herself is practically without oil resources,” writes Mr. Ickes. Further, as a source of oil, “We can ignore Europe in the main.” Therefore, “HITLER REACHES FOR THE WORLD’S OIL,” blazes the headline over Mr. Ickes’ article.

The four main oil areas outside the United States, Mr. Ickes authoritatively tells us, are Central and South America, Russia, the Far East and the Near East. A glance at this enumeration reveals that the United Nations were “oil-logged” – the Axis nations were “oil-starved.”

So Germany, Italy and Japan reach for the “world’s oil” – which means the oil resources held before the war by the United Nations. ISN’T IT MENTAL AND MORAL DEPRAVITY TO PLUNGE THE WORLD INTO HELL – OVER PETROLEUM!

To be sure, in this day and age petroleum is indispensable to all nations and all peoples. It is used for heat in homes and factories. It is used for motive power on land, on sea and in the air. It is used to run machines in the factory and on the farm. It must be had for lubrication. It is burned to generate electricity. It has many other basic uses. Without it modern life is impossible.

So what! Does that make it less criminal to kill millions of human beings, to annihilate cities, to destroy hundreds of billions of dollars of wealth – for oil!

There is a way – a sane and sensible way – whereby mankind can peacefully share oil and all the resources of the world needed for modern life. That is the way of the working people emancipated from domestic and foreign bosses, producing and exchanging raw and finished material for human use, according to human needs. THAT IS THE WAY OF THE ENLIGHTENED WORKING PEOPLE – OPPOSED TO THE LUNACY OF IMPERIALIST CONQUEST.

Is the present war being fought for this sane method of international exchange? Will victory for the United Nations lead to the kind of world to which Mr. Roosevelt pays lip service? Hear Mr. Ickes on the subject.

Mr. Ickes does not pussyfoot. He calls this war a “STRUGGLE FOR MASTERY OF THE WORLD” – not a struggle for a new world in which imperialist competition will be no more. To Mr. Ickes the future of the world is a matter of “WHO CONTROLS ITS OIL RESOURCES” – nothing more humane than that.

Mr. Roosevelt’s picture of life “without fear of the horrors of war” cannot be realized either on the basis of the United States winning world mastery or on the basis of Germany winning world mastery – through control of oil and other resources. Whichever one is the victor, its mastery will before long be challenged by the vanquished. This war will lay the basis for the next. The crazy whirligig will go on endlessly – -until the international working classes establish sanity by overthrowing all the master-minded imperialist rulers of the world.

Is there perhaps somebody – still wet behind the ears – with the idiotic notion that Mr. Ickes wants world mastery for the United States so that it can become the good Samaritan and distribute oil and other raw materials equally among all nations? A reading of Mr. Ickes’ article would quickly dispel such a fantastic notion.

Mr. Ickes knows that control of oil resources eventually means control of world markets. He has his eye cocked for “ACCESSIBILITY OF FOREIGN MARKETS,” for “EXPANDING FOREIGN TRADE,” – which is exactly why Hitler wants world domination through control of oil and everything else controllable!

That idealistic picture of a shining new world at the end of the war is Hollywood stuff. The material realities of the delirious war dance of world imperialism cannot be mistaken. THAT CRAZY BUSINESS HAPPENED ONCE BEFORE.

Some workers – who do not understand the pivotal position the working class holds to make a really better world – reason, unfortunately without benefit of reason, along the following lines:

“Well, the world being the rotten thing it is, if American imperialists win the war, American industry will get orders and at least we will have jobs – rather than the German workers.”

Yes – If they live that long! Yes – but when and for how long! And why, for heaven’s sake, should the American working class be satisfied with a state of misery for hundreds of millions of fellow workers in Europe and in the colonial countries!

This is as crazy as anything the mad hatter ever conceived. For – at this stage of technological advancement and international communication – it is possible for the working people of the whole world to have economic security, work for all, plenty of the goods of life, permanent peace – AND MASTERY OF THEIR OWN DESTINIES.

Yes, sanity is possible on this earth. Not, however, through the aberrations of an imperialist war – but, on the contrary, through the united struggle of the international working classes against international imperialism – THROUGH SOCIALISM.

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