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Sam Marcy

‘Draft Wealth’ Item in Draft Law Is a Fraud

(21 September 1940)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. 4 No. 38, 21 September 1940, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

About a month after the Burke-Wadsworth bill was introduced, a proposal made its way on the floor of Congress, whose alleged aim was to “draft wealth into the service of National defense.” Just as labor is carrying its share of the burden of National Defense, said its spokesman, so industry must also do its share. Labor pays its price in supplying the manpower for the coming war, in curtailing its demands upon the bosses, in refraining from strikes and in putting up with the ever mounting cost of living. Industry would do its share by subordinating the rapacious appetites of the bosses for profits, and submit to the “impartial” control of the government. The government would take over the munition industry, at least in war time. Before then it would at least “commandeer” the important munition producing plants.

So all through the summer months a sham battle, between the “liberals”, New Dealers and their labor lackeys on the one side, and the arrogant, arch-reactionary conservative section of the capitalist class on the other side, resounded in radio and in the pages of the capitalist press.

To be sure, Roosevelt was on the side of “drafting wealth.” He who once “fought” the economic Royalists would not now at such a grave moment in the history of the country, allow the economic Royalists to push the entire program of the coming war on the shoulders of the workers. At least not during an election campaign.

When the bill was first introduced in the Senate die-hard Republican politicians branded it as a scheme for “socializing industry”. The apparent seriousness with which the big capitalists regarded the bill could lead one to believe that it was something more than a mere scheme to divert the attention of the masses from the Burke-Wadsworth Bill and to dampen their opposition to it. But now that the bill has finally passed both houses of Congress and been signed by Roosevelt it can easily be seen that it is a sham and a fraud.

Just a Lot of Hokum

All that the “draft wealth” provisions of the Draft Law boil down to are a number of innocuous provisions calculated to be held as a threat to the smaller war producing plants in the remote event that a manufacturer refuses to execute an order placed by the War Department. Thus, if and when a manufacturer refuses to execute an order, the government may take over the plant and operate it. But the owner of the seized property will nevertheless get the full value of his property under the law during the time the government operates it and then returns it to the original owner.

So “socialistic” are the provisions of this bill that even the rabidly reactionary Hearst Press approves of them and calls the plan “fairly good”.

That the “draft wealth” provisions will apply to only small manufacturers and not at all to the real munition magnates and capitalists is made plain by the fact that the big munition makers, the DuPonts, the Morgans, and Fords, as a matter of fact do not refuse to sign the war contracts with the government. That is because they have succeeded in imposing their own terms upon the government. It was exactly with this purpose in mind, that the capitalists refused any cooperation to Roosevelt in his war program until he appointed a so-called National Defense Commission, composed of the biggest industrialists, motor magnates and steel kings who are directly tied up with the munition industries.

Good Fellows Get Together

It is the National Defense Commission, which negotiates the contracts with the big armament makers. Only last week so-called defense contracts reached $3,956,000,000. The terms and conditions were those of the armament makers. The big armor, plate and ship-building companies, the aviation and automobile magnates refused to budge an inch until they had their way. The members of the National Defense Commission, who are the blood-brothers of these armament kings, are certainly not the men to stand in the way of profits. Hence the signing of so-called defense contracts totalling almost four billion dollars. Hence the “breaking” of the so-called log jam in the defense program.

But these four billion dollars are only the first, of a long series of billions whose end is not even in sight, which will be spent by the government and the expense of which will be borne by the masses.

Not enough that the workers offer their lives, they must also bear the brunt of the expense of the war.

No wonder Roosevelt and his administration have need of a fraudulent scheme to “draft wealth”! No wonder that he must incorporate this fraudulent scheme right in the heart of the Burke-Wadsworth Conscription Law. He must do this so that his political cohorts and Labor bureaucrats may dazzle it before the eyes of the workers, and shout “See, Roosevelt, conscripts men, and wealth, too.”

For Workers’ Control of the Munitioneers

But even if the Roosevelt Government had seriously contemplated conscripting industry that effort ought to get no support from the workers.

A munition industry, or any other industry under the control of the government or the army or navy would be an industry under the control of the capitalist government, a control exercised exclusively on behalf of the capitalists. Under the capitalist system it cannot be otherwise.

There is however another choice left open to the workers. That choice, however, does not lie between the fraudulent “draft wealth” provision or any other scheme by which the capitalist government exercises control over the munitions industries.

It is the choice of Workers’ Control of all Munitions Plants! Only by the exercise of workers’ control by Labor’s independent organizations can a minimum of safety and security be accorded to the workers.

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