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Dwight Macdonald

Sparks in the News

(3 November 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No.84, 3 November 1939, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Business Looks at the War

“Without steel modern war would be impossible – Airplanes, tanks, artillery, armor plate, battleships, shells, torpedoes, barbed wire are all principally made of steel.

“The machines of war are being continually destroyed and replacements use up tremendous additional quantities of steel.

“Steel companies, during the last war, were swamped with business which proved highly profitable to them and to their stockholders.

“Steel stocks have always been among the first to respond to the stimulus of war-buying.

“We believe that sound steel stocks, purchased around current levels, will prove very profitable – repeating, in many instances, the spectacular performance of the last war.

“We have prepared reports on three very attractive steel stocks ...” – Market Letter issued by Bonner & Bonner members of N.Y. Stock Exchange.

* * *

“A 100% loss of first-line combat planes in the first months of fighting is expected by the U.S. Air Corps if ever its new armada flies to war.” – Time, Sept. 25, 1939.

* * *

“We conceive it to be necessary, without sounding any note of alarm, to bring vital information to fathers of sons approaching young manhood .. . We do not suggest acquiring life insurance through unreasonable fear. We do recommend weighing its present purchase in the light of complete knowledge and past experience. No advice can foretell whether a youngster motivated by a spirit of adventure and patriotism, will develop an uncontrollable leaning towards aviation.” – Sales Letter sent out by the John G. McNamara Organization, life insurance brokers, 17 John Street, New York City.

* * *

“The most important fact about the probable effects of the war on American business is that they are likely to be meager unless and until the nature of the warfare changes. Stalemated trench fighting would produce large orders, and so would open field operations, but economic blockades are quite unlikely to do it.” – Cleveland Trust Company Business Bulletin, October 15, 1939.

* * *

“Future of Business: Prevailing opinion seems to be that the first quarter of 1940 will be down from the current quarter. Drop of 10 points, or more, is believed to be likely.

“War-ifs make qualifications, of course.

“If early full peace, then six to nine months of recession.

“If continued war – a dragging war, conserving war materials – then probably further pick-up here after the first quarter of 1940.

“If fast & furious war, full tilt, then a boom year in 1940.” – The Kiplinger Washington Letter, Washington, D.C.

* * *

“WE ARE NOT NEUTRAL ... The present so-called neutrality law will not of itself keep us out of direct involvement in war. Revision of the law, as asked by the President and favored by majority public opinion, will not of itself draw us into war. In the final analysis we will go to war if and when our vital interests are threatened. Otherwise not. Whether our vital interests will or will not be threatened at some later stage of this war is entirely unpredictable and will not be determined by the kind of law that Senator Borah wants or the kind that Mr. Roosevelt wants. What are our vital interests? To cite two of the most obvious, the survival of the British navy is a vital interest to us and even more so is maintenance of the status quo in our entire hemisphere, including islands as far distant as Bermuda.

“Meanwhile we engage in bitter debate on ‘neutrality’ although, in the strict sense of the term, we a.e not neutral. We are not neutral in sentiment, for we favor victory for the Allies. We are not neutral in fact, for present law permits the British and French to buy from us most of the types of materials essential to prosecution of war, while circumstances prevent such materials going to Germany.” – The Trend of Events section, Magazine of Wall Street.

* * *

“If America becomes involved, as some observers prematurely are predicting, Congress would not hesitate to make any President virtually a dictator.

“But it is well realized that, after seven years of expanding powers, the central government is now so strong that its further growth into a war machine would end our democratic system and it would be well-nigh impossible to return to it.” – Article by Kendall K. Hoyt in a recent issue of The Annalist.

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