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Jack Weber

March of Events

State of the Union – No More Cash Relief

(12 January 1935)

From The New Militant, Vol. I No. 5, 12 January 1935, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Imperialism and the Farmer

Roosevelt has sent his message to Congress on the state of the union. And a sad state it is. Had there been in the past year a sharp upturn, a rapid rise in production, reemployment of many more millions of workers, Roosevelt would have taken credit for all this as the result of the New Deal. As it turns out all the hollowness of the demagogy and ballyhoo of the NRA stands nakedly revealed. True, there has been some recovery of business; employment is above the lowest levels of the crisis; but the illusions created in the minds of many workers that the government would see to the return of prosperity and send them back to the factories in short order have evaporated into thin air. It must be clear to all by now that Roosevelt gambled on the ending of the depression and on the recovery of business in the normal course of things, and that his whole “program” so far as the working class was concerned, was intended to lull the masses into passivity during the worst phase of the crisis.

In his message of last year Roosevelt expressed the hope that the budget could be balanced in the next fiscal year – the year beginning in June 1935. That hope, too, goes by the board with the indication that a deficit of four billions of dollars will be piled up in the coming year, thereby bringing the total federal debt to a record high. With the failure of business to pick up sufficiently to permit balancing of the budget, with the government embarking on a new program of public spending to be financed by government borrowing, further inflation looms in the future as almost a certainty. Of course it is not Roosevelt’s real intention to spend the entire appropriations supposedly made for relief through public works. But if he follows along the course outlined in his message, the treasury, will be forced by the need for refunding previous loans (for example the Liberty Loans that fall due), and the demands for new funds for public works and other “emergency” measures, to borrow some eleven and a half billions of dollars. Such huge government borrowings will exert the most disturbing influence on the entire financial structure of the nation. That is why the government may be compelled to take over greater and greater control of the banking and credit system.

* * *

What is of the utmost importance to both the employed and the unemployed alike, is that part of Roosevelt’s message dealing with relief. He intends to drop as much as possible cash relief and substitute what comes close to being forced labor at low wages, lower than for similar work in private employment. And this, is to be applied particularly in the field of construction. Thus the pre-arranged propaganda extending back for months now, blaming the failure of recovery in the building trades and the field of heavy construction on the refusal of the skilled workers to give up the wage levels and the conditions to which they were heretofore accustomed, is now bearing fruit. The government is stepping in to help beat down the standards of living of the building trades workers. Recovery of heavy industry is to take place by loading all the sacrifices on the backs of the working class. It can be said in advance that the workers will not submit to this program without the sharpest struggles and resistance. The government will find it necessary to use the methods of repression more and more.

* * *

Secretary Wallace Gives the Key

To understand the real meaning of the moves being made by the government one must see them in their entirety as in accord with the historic aims and needs of the American finance capitalists. Such a view is given most clearly in the apparently “liberal” writings of Secretary of Agriculture Wallace. To him it is perfectly clear that America cannot turn to any scheme of autarchy, of a self-enclosed economy. Rather it must rearrange its entire internal economy so as to enable the closest economic ties to be made with the backward agricultural countries of South America and Asia. America, in short, must become more and more imperialistic. It must capture the major world markets for manufactured goods by its mass production methods in the factories. Competition with the other imperialists requires that the costs of production must be extremely low. Hence the drive on workers’ living standards. At the same time, if these other countries are to buy in “our” market, they must be permitted to sell their agricultural products. Hence the program of crop control here, to eliminate those American farmers in competition with the potential buyers. Naturally with this vast program of imperialism goes a complete revision of the tariff system.

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