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Jack Weber

March of Events

(7 April 1934)

From The Militant, Vol. VII No. 14, 7 April 1934, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Period of Concessions Closing

American capitalists, having gained respite thru a policy of apparent concessions based on the NRA, now breathe more easily and begin to show their bared fists to the organized workers. The pretense that the NRA gave recognition to labor’s complete right to organize trade unions, is being rapidly discarded. The drive is now on for the open shop. Even the A.F. of L. unions alarm the bosses, not because of any real accomplishment of its leadership for the working class, but because of its potentialities as a rallying force for the unorganized. The first steps to build up industrial (“federal”) unions in the mass production industries, arouses the utmost fury of big business which proceeds without delay to open up a sharp counter-attack on the A.F. of L. The threat of the auto strike was the signal for this attack.

* * * *

The Open Shop Drive

In the sharpening struggle, Roosevelt and Johnson obey the behests of the big capitalists and act as the spearhead of the attack. A meeting of fifty iron and steel companies, convened at Pittsburgh recently, hailed Roosevelt’s leading statement on the auto industry: “The government makes it clear that it favors no particular form of employee organization or representation. The government’s only duty is to secure absolute and uninfluenced freedom of choice? without coercion, restraint or intimidation from any source.” Quite correctly the companies interpret this statement as encouragement to build company unions, which will be recognized by NRA officials and will meet “collectively” with real trade union representatives in negotiations with the bosses.

Even the bourgeois press press labels the acceptance of the terms of the auto agreement as a major defeat of the A.F. of L. and therefore of the working class. Simultaneously the steel barons condemn the Wagner bill, outlawing company unions, whereupon this bill, never intended seriously except to lull the workers into passivity thru the false hope that “government” would aid the workers in attaining their aims, is unceremoniously scuttled.

* * * *

Dividing the Movement

Nor is it by accident or thru sheer generosity that the General Electric Co., the steel mills and the coal mine’s grant wage increases and concessions in hours at this time. Organized labor must be prevented above all else (for that might prove decisive in the struggles to come) from spreading in the steel mills, and workers must be pacified in the mines while the major offensive is conducted to halt the influx into the unions and to assure the open shop. Besides this, the ending of the CWA and the shutting off of all relief to millions of workers, makes it necessary to divide the employed from the unemployed. This movement of the unemployed workers will unquestionably take on a militant character in the present situation, and hence the preparations of the boss class to isolate it.

Clearly it becomes our task to help redouble the campaign for organizing the workers in the basic mass production industries; to expose the open shop and company union drive, aided by Roosevelt and also by the corrupt A.F. of L. bureaucracy; to unite employed and unemployed in a militant struggle on all fronts against the concerted drive of the capitalists to pauperize the working class.

* * * *

Bourgeois Nightmares

The bourgeoisie cannot sleep well o’ nights. It sees spectres everywhere. It is acutely aware of the crystalization of the class struggle in one country after the other into such clear-cut form as to make possible only one of two choices as the next step in social evolution: the road to communism or the road to fascism. Hence the uneasiness and the nervousness manifest on a national scale. The Hearst press utilizes these fears to prepare a new “anti-red” drive by means of the series of articles on American. Communism by that arch-reactionary, Easley, of the Civic Federation.

A large section of the capitalist class never accepted Roosevelt’s strategy of “liberal” treatment for the workers even temporarily. They feared that Roosevelt’s policy might stimulate and encourage rather than discipline and “control” the workers’ movement. This section of the bourgeoisie has bided its time to open the attack against Roosevelt. The present blast against Roosevelt takes the form of an attack on his “brain trust.” It is fitting that this blast should be opened by Wirt, founder of the factory school system at Gary, Indiana. He mistrusts “liberalism” and would prefer – and prepares the way for – outright fascism.

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