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Jack Weber

March of Events

(6 April 1935)

From The New Militant, Vol. I No. 16, 6 April 1935, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Fascist Symptoms in the Third Party Movement

The present mayoralty campaign in Chicago gives symptomatic indications of the coming struggle to win the middle classes and the unemployed for the purpose of reaction. In this campaign the third party movement put forward its candidate, Jenkins, formerly a “progressive” republican associated with LaFollette. In his speeches Jenkins proceeded to lay the foundations (as does Father Coughlin) for that appeal to anti-Semitism which is the inevitable accompaniment of the rise of fascism. He denounced as those responsible for the notorious corruption in Chicago “a pack of crooked Jews who have disgraced our city.” It develops that Jenkins has Nazi ties and that Pelley of Silver Shirt fame visited the Chicago Friends of New Germany to secure their support for Jenkins. Thus we find already on a local scale how the Third Party movement under present historic conditional plays a reactionary role and tends to assume fascist forms.

Nor is this observation based on the leaning of the movement towards anti-Semitism. The entire program attempts to translate into American terms the early demagogy of fascism in its first strivings for a political foothold. Thus the booklet issued by this party calls for an organization whose members will be subjected to “a stern program of physical education.” This is unprecedented in American politics and is a clear hint of the ultimate goal of creating storm troops and fascist bands.

Furthermore “the new party must be intensely nationalistic,” It takes no clairvoyant to read into this phrase the entire program of American imperialism and the irreconcilable struggle between such a party and the organizations of the militant and revolutionary workers. The program calls for a new party for American business, agriculture and labor. It makes the following demagogic bid for the unemployed worker’s support: “Business and labor and government have all failed the jobless American.” “He is entitled to work and the new party will give him work and do it at once.” Plainly there is here the attempt to pit the unemployed against the employed workers.

The new party reaches out for the petty bourgeoisie, overburdened by taxation. It is proposed to make the United States a “taxless nation” by using the profits from transportation, light and power, telephones, telegraphs, radio and similar (monopolized) public services to defray the cost of government. Here is the usual demagogic appeal to the small man against the trusts. Inflation is promised to the farmer in order to liquidate the

entire public debt by the systematic issuance of government currency over several years’ time “without disturbing the financial structure of the country”. Without exhausting the chimerical outpourings of the capitalist horn of plenty pictured by third party demagogy, we may add that the soldiers have not been forgotten (they will be given the bonus), nor the youth who will be “given the opportunity or better be required to serve the country in some capacity for a short period of time.” Naturally the fascists would be in favor of forced labor for the young or of universal conscription.

* * *

New Political Movements and the Class Struggle

To the Marxist it is quite clear that no new political movement arises without meeting urgent needs of one or the other of the two main classes in modern society. The working class is slowly coming to a realization through all its everyday experiences that strive with might and main as it may it cannot regain the former standards of living. Workers in one industry or the other may gain temporary success in bettering the conditions under which they gain their livelihood, but taking the class as a whole capitalism has exhausted its possibilities of granting to workers any real concessions in the way of wages or higher standards. The waves of strike struggles, each more militant than the last, end with the proletariat still suffering the same poverty, the same misery, the same intense exploitation as before. The lesson is being gradually driven home that the only way out is the revolutionary way, through the overthrow of capitalism. Hence the need for the Workers Party to give guidance to the class.

But in parallel fashion, the big bourgeoisie, in their greedy scramble to maintain profits against the desperate rivalry of the capitalists of other nations, find the apparent solution for their problems by withdrawing all the previous concessions forced from them by the workers, and by an intensive drive on the living standards of the proletariat and the toilers in general.

This gigantic struggle, assuming a myriad of forms, is reflected politically. To accomplish their purposes financiers subsidize new movements which rally the middle class under the banner of reaction for the purpose of eliminating democracy and preventing the workers from seizing the power. The third party movement must inevitably reflect this need of the big bourgeoisie under present conditions. The answer by the workers can be given not through a labor party but by means of the only force of defeating fascism, the revolutionary Marxist party, the Workers Party.

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