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Henry Wallace – His Record
as Capitalist Politician

(8 March 1948)

From The Militant, Vol. 12 No. 10, 8 March 1948, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Henry, Agard Wallace is a middle-class, capitalist politician who feeds on liberal-sounding words. These he chews over like a cow does its cud. He never tires of the flavor of such phrases as the “Common Man,” the “General Welfare” and “Progressivism.” And who dares oppose these?

Liberal phonies always use such glittering generalities. Only Wallace repeats them more often, more vaguely and more shamelessly. This windy demagogy is the foundation of his reputation as a “Champion of the People.”

Fortunately, we are not forced to judge him by words alone. Wallace has had ample opportunity to demonstrate in deeds his self-proclaimed love for the “common man.” He was a top figure in the government for 13½ years and once bore the proud title of Roosevelt’s “Crown Prince.”

In all those years he did not do a single thing of benefit for the “common man” – not for the workers, the Negro people, the poor farmers and sharecroppers or the small business man.

His deeds in office were an unbroken chain of reaction. That is a matter, of public record, if not of public knowledge. Most of the facts have now been conveniently compiled in a book, Henry Wallace – The Man and the Myth by Dwight Macdonald. (Vanguard Press, Inc., New York City).

Wallace was the Roosevelt administration’s loudest warmonger, jingo and apologist for U.S. imperialist participation in World War II.

He was a member of Roosevelt’s secret policy group that initiated the development of the atomic bomb. He hailed this most fiendish instrument of war as a major triumph of Roosevelt and the “New Deal.”

He upheld Roosevelt’s wartime demand for Saudi Arabian oil, boasting this “was not ruthless imperialism but good old-fashioned American imperialism” and “the United States: is proud of it.”

He defends to this day the dismemberment of Germany, starvation rations for the German people and continued ruthless military occupation of the conquered countries.

“World Peace” Formula

His “anti-imperialist” program, stated most fully and crudely in his Madison Square Garden speech in September 1946 calls for an agreement between Washington and the Kremlin to divide the world between them. That is his formula for “world peace.”

Here are some highlights of his record on the “common man” at home:

He put through, as Secretary of Agriculture, a program of “planned scarcity,” whereby the big landowners were paid to destroy crops and livestock to boost prices in a world of unemployment and hunger.

He fired his own “New Deal” colleagues out of the Department of Agriculture at the behest of cotton speculators, textile interests and the reactionary Farm Bureau of big landowners.

He falsely interpreted a clause in the Agricultural Adjustment Act. to permit wealthy landowners to reduce acreage by evicting thousands of tenant-farmers and sharecroppers.

He repudiated, at the climax of the 1946 General Motors strike, a confidential report of Commerce Department economist’s which he himself had released before the strike and which showed that the auto corporations could raise wages 10% without raising prices.

He demanded, just after the 1946 coal strike, that the government take over strike-threatened industries and that the workers, “like other federal employeee, give up the right to ... strike.”

He rudely refused to see a Negro delegation and sneaked out on them when they came to appeal for aid in saving the life of the Virginia sharecropper Odell Waller, who was later executed for his self-defense slaying of a white man.

He surrounded himself, as Secretary of Commerce, with a retinue of conservative big businessmen and proclaimed himself “the representative of business in government.”

Defends Profit System

He has championed consistently but one program, “the preservation of our democratic free enterprise system” – that is, the capitalist exploitation of labor for private profit.

These fully documented damning facts go unchallenged and unmentioned in an attempted reply to Macdonald’s book in a review by Russell Lord in the March 1 New Republic, Wallace’s mouthpiece.

Lord treats us to the worshipful disciple’s fanciful portrait of Wallace, “profoundly simple, profoundly practical ... it is certain he will keep growing.” Lord concerns himself chiefly with heated denials of the least important aspects of Macdonald’s book, his psychological and moral appraisals of Wallace.

The record cited by Macdonald shows that Wallace is a “trimmer, hedger and chronic reneger” who “lacks the guts to stand up under pressure.” But Macdonald overemphasizes personal quirks and traits and leaves out the key to a real understanding of Wallace.

That key is the class character of Wallace, his politics and his movement. In every major test of his career Wallace has proved himself a loyal defender of capitalism and American imperialism.

From 1933 to 1940, when Wallace headed the Department of Agriculture, he faithfully served the rich landowners against the poor farmers, tenant-farmers, sharecroppers and low-wage consumers. He worked most closely with the Farm Bureau Federation, the lobby of the “400-acre farmers.” The Farm Bureau’s 1,800 county agents became the local agents of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA).

The AAA paid landowning farmers to withdraw a portion of their land from cultivation in order to reduce crops and raise prices. But the majority of farmers are tenants and sharecroppers and only landowners received benefits. The landowners. first withdrew from production land occupied by tenants and share-croppers. These not only were deprived of a livelihood, but were kicked out of their homes.

Wallace’s Sell-Out

A clause in the AAA contract said that the landlord “shall permit all tenants to continue in occupancy of their houses on this farm, rent free, for the years 1934 and 1935.” The Southern Tenant Farmers Union protested there were hundreds of evictions in spite of this clause. Wallace fired several of his aides who supported the tenants. He said the clause did not mean the same tenants must remain, only the same number of tenants. The Arkansas courts promptly accepted his interpretation and upheld hundreds of evictions.

Ten years later, when he was Secretary of Commence, Wallace followed similar policies. He appointed as his undersecretary Alfred Schinder, a conservative big businessman who had previously served under banker Jesse Jones. Another ton job went to Albert J. Browning, who called for incentive wages. Wallace brushed aside the small business interests who sought his aid against the monopolies. The May 20, 1945 N.Y. Times published a special article describing the surprise and pleasure of Big Business at Wallace’s policies.

While Vice President, from 1940 to 1944, Wallace destroyed any claim he might have to being “anti-war” and “anti-imperialist.” He served the special role of whitewashing the imperialist character of the war and dressing up its sordid aims. In his highly-publicized address on the “People’s Century,” he lied about the war as a “people’s war,” even a “people’s revolution,” whose aim was to bring a quart of milk a day to every child in the world.

Today, as we all know, not the least result of the war has been to bring starvation and death to millions of children in Europe and Asia.

Deal with Stalin

Wallace’s campaign for a deal with Russia and his expulsion from the Truman, administration over this issue has led to the charge that he is “pro-Russian” and a “Communist fellow-traveller.” Macdonald’s crude Stalinophobia and lack of a class approach to politics leads him to make similar charges.

Wallace is just as much an American imperialist today as he was during the war. He is no more “pro-Russian” than were the capitalist politicians – from the White House down – who whitewashed the crimes of Stalin during wartime, just as the Stalinists whitewashed Wall Street and its chief political agent, Roosevelt.

Wallace, today asks no more than Roosevelt and Churchill agreed to, in essence, at Teheran and Yalta, and Truman underwrote , at Potsdam. He wants to give American capitalism a breathing spell through another deal with Stalin to divide the world into “spheres of influence.” Wallace’s differences with Truman are tactical, not fundamental.

What Wallace wants he stated in his Madison Square Garden speech, on Sept. 12, 1946. He declared that “by mutual agreement, this competition should be put on a friendly basis” and mutual fears should be “allayed by practical regional political reservations.” These “regional reservations”, he stated, would include the one-third of the world which “Russian ideas ... are going to govern” and “much of the rest” of the world where “American Ideals” will rule,

This is dirty horse-trading disguised as a “peace” program. It is Wallace’s chief plank today – the most he has to offer the “Common Man.”

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