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Gertrude Shaw

Bosses’ Anti-Labor Propaganda Among Soldiers
Has a Reason – Not a Good One!

(10 January 1944)

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 2, 10 January 1944, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

When the miners were fighting alone and desperately for the right of all workers to a wage commensurate with the skyrocketing cost of living, the pay-triots of the National Association of Manufacturers craftily tried to turn public opinion against the miners by accusing them of sabotaging the soldiers at the front.

Following the militant example of the miners, the railroad and steel workers are today out in front struggling to melt the wage freeze. As was to have been expected, the war-profiteering capitalists again set up, the false hue and cry that the workers are betraying the soldiers. And the President now joins the chorus.

The same capitalist propaganda agents who are so arduously and dishonestly trying to hammer a wedge between the workers and the soldiers are now revealing just what they are up to.

This revelation has come about on the question of renegotiation of war contracts – and thereby hangs a most interesting tale.

Revelations and “Just Rewards”

In April, 1942, a law was passed for renegotiating war contracts. Under Secretary of War Patterson explained that the renegotiation law was passed for a reason that can be stated in three words: “Exorbitant war profits.”

Since the passage of the law, the government succeeded in taking out of the greedy grasp of big business through renegotiation of war contracts a juicy tidbit amounting to $5,300,000,000.

That $5,300,000,00 looks awfully good to the capitalists. In fact they consider they have been robbed of it. They are positive they have been deprived of some of their “just rewards.”

So they got busy not to let it happen again. Through the “representatives of the people” in Congress, they hoped to commit mayhem on said renegotiation law. Congress obediently introduced so many amendments to the law as to make its operation a pointless joke. If the amendments should be passed, there will be no more such “nonsense” as paying back to the government over five billion dollars of “hard-earned” war profits.

That’s an excellent illustration of capitalist greed – for even without that $5,300,000,000, big business made clear profit to the tune of $8,600,000,000 in 1943!

To save them from their own greed, many spokesmen for the capitalists have started to talk turkey. They are afraid of the consequences of the super-duper war profiteering.

And of whom are the watch-dogs of capitalism afraid?

Of those very same soldiers whom they are trying so hard to turn against labor.

Fear Soldier Reaction

Thus Under Secretary of the Navy Forrestal, a Wall Street banker, warns his co-capitalists to go easy because their unrestrained greed may “lead to a reaction and another wave of radicalism and anti-business legislation when the SERVICE MEN come back home and get all the facts about wartime profits.”

In the same vein, David Lawrence, good capitalist journalist, writes in the New York Sun:

“When SERVICE MEN get back home and read the headlines of congressional inquiries into war profits they will wonder what was done back home when they were at war.”

And Arthur Krock, reactionary columnist of the New York Times, also warns the war profiteers that:

“SERVICE MEN returned from the conflict would be conditioned to radical economic plans thus far rejected. And the system of ‘free enterprise,’ to which business men swear devotion every time they come together, would be sorely wounded in its own house.”

So you can see that the “fox hole” propagandists know very well who are the real enemies at home of the soldiers at the front. These hypocrites try to whoop up soldier opinion against the workers – to divert the just wrath of the soldiers from the shameless profit-grubbing of the industrial masters of the land.

What the real interests of the men in arms are is shown, first of all, by the composition of the armed forces.

Of the personnel under arms, twenty-five per cent are actually union men. Another large percentage are unorganized workers. Many are young men from working class families who would have gone out looking for jobs if the war had not swallowed them.

A drafted army necessarily reflects the composition of the population. The overwhelming majority of the people of the United States and every other country work for a living and do not – like the capitalists – live off the labor of others.

The mass of men in arms cannot identify themselves with the exploiters of labor who made huge fortunes out of the blood and horror of World War I – and are repeating the performance on a super-duper scale.

Let us look at what the capitalists are getting out of this war so far.

War Profits Up to Now

Profits of companies with war orders are known to have gone up by hundreds and thousands of per cent. One concern hit the jackpot with a 2,420 per cent increase of war profit over peace profits. The salaries of the big moguls of industry have been doubled, tripled and quadrupled.

As stated above, in 1943 big business netted profits to the tune of $8,600,000,000 after paying taxes and deducting plenty for reserves, wear and tear, obsolescence and what not – and even after the government took back that $5,300,000,000 of “exorbitant war profits” through renegotiation of contracts.

On the other hand, what are the workers getting out of the war?

Wage rates have been frozen by the Little Steel formula, and only by dint of working almost to physical exhaustion has the workers’ pay looked like anything approaching respectability. Wages are automatically reduced by the twenty per cent pay-as-you-go tax and again by the ten per cent bond purchasing pledge. The purchasing power of the worker’s dollar has been slashed by the constantly mounting cost of living, by violations of ceiling prices, by black market operations. The value of the worker’s dollar has been further diminished by the inferior quality of everything he buys.

After three years of war, the American workers have got so “much” out of it that they have to strike in self-preservation – both to get more wages to enable them to live and to check the arrogant anti-labor policy that the capitalists have put over under cover of “war necessity.” And already the cutbacks in war orders begin to throw workers out of jobs and into the army of unemployed.

When the soldier returns home he will be part of that mass of working people who – without any $55,000,000,000 in reserve – will be struggling to solve the problems of unemployment, of decent wages, of fair conditions of work, of housing, of medical care, of education. And every thinking soldier coming from the mass of unprivileged and underprivileged people of this land, understands that each blow struck by the workers to defend and extend labor’s rights is a blow struck for him also.

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Last updated: 11 August 2015