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A Labor Party

Jack Ranger

Chapters from a New Pamphlet

A Labor Party –
A “Must” for American Workers

Chapter 9
New Answers to Well-Worn Arguments

From Labor Action, Vol. 12 No. 37, 13 September 1948, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

OPPONENTS of the proposition that the labor movement of the United States should build its own labor party are not too inventive.

The arguments that one hears today from the union officialdom and the liberal do-gooders are the same (in many cases, word-for-word the same) as those that have been advanced by opponents of the labor-party idea in the past two generations. Here are the chief arguments, and here are the answers:

1) It is not the time to build a labor party.

Answer: To the Republican-Democratic monopoly, and to its followers and beneficiaries in the leadership of the trade-union movement, 1948 was not the time for the unions to organize their own party and place a ticket in the field. Neither was 1946 the time. Nor 1942. Nor 1936. Nor 1928. Neither will 1950 be the time. Nor 1952. Nor 1956. Nor 1960 (presuming that the atom bomb has not deposited radioactive dust over all people, and hence over all politics, by that time).

If these opponents of the labor party were to speak their true minds, or rather truly reflect the minds of their political superiors, they would say: “Never is too soon to build a labor party.”

But why should we – who are paying in declining living standards and increasing insecurity for every month of delay in the building of a labor party – hearken to this argument?

2) A labor party in the field will weaken the Democratic Party and ensure the election of reactionary Republicans.

ANSWER: The majority of trade-union leaders are affiliated with the Democratic Party and this is their stock argument. Naturally, such Republican union leaders as William Hutcheson of the Carpenters Union and (occasionally) John L. Lewis deny the validity of the argument, in favor of the Republicans.

We deny it in favor of the labor party.

Look! Is there such a measurable difference in the character of the two old parties as dictates to labor that it should continue to abstain from politics so as to throw its support to the Democratic Party? If there is such a difference, how is it revealed?

On the vote on the Taft-Hartley Act? But majorities of both parties voted for that act, and voted to pass it over Truman’s veto.

But, after all, Truman vetoed it? Of course. It was politically expedient for him to do so. In his place, a Taft or a Stassen would have done the same thing – since he knew it would be passed over his veto.

Is one party less subservient to Wall Street than the other? No. The big banks and industrialists impartially support both parties. Henry Wallace and the Chicago Tribune are only speaking the truth when they enumerate the Wall Street characters who are breathing down Harry Truman’s neck in the White House and setting policy for the Truman administration.

Is one party less war-minded than the other? If anything, the Democratic Party has the worst of this argument, if only because there are more isolationists in the Republican Party. Who is hottest for universal military training, if not Truman and his party? Whose diplomacy ensured that the U.S. would enter the Second World War, if not Roosevelt’s? Do not both parties support the Marshall Plan, which proposes to organize Europe behind Wall Street for the Third World War, under the guise of aiding Europe?

Which party has more corruption? Isn’t it a tossup between the Democrats’ Flynn, Kelly, Pendergast, Curley, and Hague machines, and the Republicans’ Pew and Green machines, etc.?

Which party does most to foster Jim Crow and hatred of the Negro, and thus to weaken labor by fostering race prejudice based on ignorance and superstition? The Democratic Party, with its solid cracker section in the South, doesn’t look too good here. Let’s agree that both old parties are abhorrent in this respect.

There are differences between the two parties, but they are secondary differences. The intelligent worker understands that both old parties are used impartially by big business to suppress him, and that it is of no interest to him which old party retains or gains office.

The intelligent worker understands his only legitimate interest is to work to throw both old parties out of office, and to replace them with a party which will be in every respect their superior – more responsive to the needs of the people, more conscious of the ability of modern industry, when properly organized, to give a decent living and security to all the people, more interested in human than in property rights, more interested in planning and spending for peace than for war, more interested in getting along with and aiding the exploited peoples of other lands to throw off their exploiters than to strengthen their exploiters to stay in power.

3) If a labor party were organized, with the support of the trade unions and failed in its first attempt to elect its candidates to office, then “labor would be without representation or standing in Washington, the state capitals, the city halls.”

Answer: Don’t make me laugh, my lip is cracked. Labor, thanks to the treacherous political policy of the labor leaders, has been without representation in Washington and elsewhere for generations.

Labor’s suggestions and prayers have been met with contempt by both Republican and Democratic officeholders. Labor’s bloody struggles for higher wages have been opposed by Democratic Mayor Kelly’s police and by Roosevelt and Truman’s national guard no less than by Stassen’s “slave-labor law” in Minnesota or by Taft-Hartley’s national anti-labor law. The struggle of the unemployed for relief standards that would keep body and soul together was met with imprisonment at the hands of Roosevelt’s Department of Justice as well as with criminally inadequate relief standards fostered by both old parties. The old parties quibbled about granting one billion dollars for relief in 1939 – and spent hundreds of times that amount in the next five years “relieving” workers in other lands of their lives and homes.

We are glad that was brought up – the one about labor’s having no representation in Washington. If the Democratic-Republican setup is truly representative of the interests of all the people of this nation, as its supporters claim, how come there is not one single worker in Congress? There are, as Murray and Green and Whitney will admit, approximately 16 million organized workers and twice that number unorganized. Yet, far from being represented in Congress, the entire working class of the United States is disfranchised.

A cursory examination of the biographical section of the Official Congressional Directory reveals that, of 96 Senators, the following occupations are represented: lawyers 61, businessmen 10, bankers 6, publishers 7, broker 1, newspapermen 2, farmers 3, educators 1, embalmer 1, plain politicians 4, workers 0.

The social composition of the House is just as anti-labor. Of the 434 members of the House in the Eightieth Congress, the following occupations, are represented; lawyers 241, businessmen 37, realtors 8, accountants 4, publishers 21, personnel managers 2, educators 22, bankers 17, newspapermen 17, farmers 3, preacher 1, stage star 1, plain politicians 48, pharmacist 1, brokers 5, ranchers 7, insurance men 7, contractors 2, military 3, doctors 4, architects 2, missionary 1, veterinary 1, public relations 1, ex-union official 1, workers 0.

It is this Congress which has removed federal price controls with the promise that prices would not thereafter rise; which dealt a staggering blow to unions through the Taft-Hartley Act; which put money in the hands of the real-estate operators through the easing of rent control; which approved a foreign policy which promotes monarchical reaction in Greece, semi-fascism in China, imperialism in Southeast Asia, and neo-fascism in Western Europe; which has placed the costs of the imperialist war largely upon the backs of the working class.

(Chapter 9 continued next week)

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