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James T. Farrell

[On the Marshall Plan]

(29 April 1948))

From Labor Action, Vol. 12 No. 20, 17 May 1948, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Dear Friends:

I wish briefly to state my own view on the Marshall Plan. I am in favor of it. I support ERP with the proposal that one should demand trade union representation in the administration of the Plan (this is provided for) and the dispatch of aid to countries with a free labor movement and constitutional liberties. I think that aid to Western Europe is a prerequisite for any development, politically and economically. There is no practical alternative for the dispatch of aid other than that provided for in ERP. The proposals of Wallace, for aid through the United Nations, are merely demagogy which helps Stalinism. The so-called Molotov Plan is an economic equivalent for NKVD rule. There is no immediate possibility of aid on a socialist basis. And if conditions further deteriorate in Western Europe, only Stalinism will gain. A deterioration of conditions will not, further, postpone war: it will hasten war.

I do not see the Marshall Plan as a purely military measure. It is, in my opinion, a plan for the capitalist reconstruction of Western Europe. The capitalist reconstruction of Western Europe is far, far better than no reconstruction. I also think that if the Marshall Plan can be partially successful, war might be postponed. I do not, therefore, think that the Marshall Plan at all makes the danger of war necessarily more imminent. The simple fact is that today, only American wealth and power stands in the road of Stalinist expansion. Stalinist expansion will not postpone war; it will, if anything, hasten it.

I think that the motives behind the Marshall Plan are secondary to this question – what will happen if there is no American aid for Western Europe? And is there any practical way whereby aid is likely to go to Europe other than through ERP? Also, there is the question – who will gain most if the Marshall Plan fails? Will it be socialism, or Stalinism? To ask this question is really to answer it. If the Marshall Plan fails, only Stalinism will gain. If anyone can convince me that I am wrong here, I will reject this view. But in the meantime, I am for support of ERP in the sense that I have stated it in this letter.


James T. Farrell
April 29, 1948

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