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Jack Weber

March of Events

(9 March 1935)

From The New Militant, Vol. I No. 12, 9 March 1935, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Italy’s Colonial Drive

With French and British acquiescence, Mussolini has found a “safe” outlet for the war spirit rabidly fostered by his constant waving of the sword. Emulating the fable of the wolf and the lamb, Il Duce is not to be placated even by the most extreme and abject concessions on the part of the Abyssinians. He is determined to make Ethiopia part of the Italian colonial empire, in accordance with the secret treaty of 1915 that won Italy to the side of the allies in the World War. Gold and oil (the latter recently discovered) are not the only lures drawing Italian imperialism on. Italy has an unfavorable trade balance contributed to by the need for importing food supplies as well as raw materials. Mussolini hopes that the new African colony will help to correct this chronic condition of Italian trade. Besides Italian economy is in a profound crisis and capitalism knows no other means for solving the economic impasse except to resort to war. Unable to bring about the recovery of a decaying system, fascism is forced to turn outwards beyond the national borders in a desperate attempt to start the wheels of industry going by the creation of the destructive demands of war. The Abyssinians were able to beat off the previous attempt made by Italy to subjugate Ethiopia in the war of 1895. But the modern methods of mass destruction leave the backward negro nation utterly helpless to meet attack by an advanced nation.

* * *

Japan and the Chinese Consortium

The negotiations between Tokyo and Nanking, in which Japan practically renewed her infamous twenty-one demands on China, have aroused the greatest anxiety among the other imperialists. Will not the corrupt Chiang Kai-Shek for the sake of a Japanese loan, for help against the peasant red armies and under the threats of even greater attacks on China by the Japanese militarists than have yet taken place, yield to Japan? If this occurs, China will become to all intents and purposes the colony of Japan. No deeper feelings of “righteous and moral” indignation could possibly be aroused in the breasts of the American and English capitalists than at the thought that they were to be permanently excluded from obtaining their share of plunder in China. No wonder that Ambassador Lindsay hurried quickly to confer with Under-Secretary of State Phillips and with the French Ambassador in order to arrive at an understanding of what joint action could be taken to hinder Japanese plans. Formally they raise the question of the violation of the Consortium Agreement of 1920 according to which no loan was to be made to China except with the agreement and participation of all these powers. Naturally Japan is flouting this bandits’ agreement, seeing her chance. In this game of capitalist diplomacy the interests of China and her masses are completely ignored and play no part. Nor will they play any role until the Chinese workers are heard once again in the next revolutionary upsurge.

* * *

Roosevelt and “Prevailing Wage”

How serious is the struggle between Roosevelt and the Senate over the prevailing wage clause added to the work relief measure? Certainly Roosevelt suffered a political set-back by the addition of the McCarran amendment. But It would be childish to think that the majority of those who forced through the amendment were really interested in protecting the wage scales of employed workers. The Senate had been warned in advance that a measure containing this provision would be vetoed by the President. Hence it cost it nothing at all to avoid the loss of labor votes in the coming elections by making the gesture that would satisfy Green and the A.F. of L. One of the motives back of the entire maneuver was undoubtedly dissatisfaction with the high-handed manner in which Roosevelt has handled the vast funds placed at his disposal. The Senators would like to have more to say concerning where and how this money is to be spent. They miss their former control of the pork barrel. This was shown clearly by the representatives despite the fact that the measure was passed by them without demur. But they were opposed to having the money administered by Secretary Ickes who failed to satisfy the politicians in his dishing out of spoils. Hence even the House refused to pass the measure until after a conference at the White House at which the leaders were reassured as to control and uses of the “mystery” fund of nearly five billions of dollars. One can safely predict that a “compromise” will be reached that sacrifices entirely the interests of the workers under the proper phraseology, giving Roosevelt precisely what he wants. This will be accomplished by the simple Roosevelt expedient of buying Senate votes by satisfying the proper politicians with their share of the booty. The question remains as to what Roosevelt will actually do with the funds appropriated. How much of it will actually go to workers, how much to subsidize the construction industries? Under the demagogic guise of work relief a large portion of the fund will go not to workers for wages, but to capitalist corporations to provide the materials for the work. Roosevelt has no intention of spending five billions to provide work alone. Rather he will pump profits into the coffers of the financiers.

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