W.F. Carlton

Mr. Minor, This War Is NOT
Like the Civil War of 1861

(August 1944)

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 35, 28 August 1944, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for MIA.

The events in Philadelphia are recognized on all sides as being of great significance in evaluating the present situation of Negroes and their future development.

To twist these events to suit their own perverted policy, the Stalinists are now twisting the history of the Negro people. In the Daily Worker of August 11, Robert Minor writes an article entitled Like the Draft Riots of ’63. He tells how, ten days after the defeat of Lee at Gettysburg in 1863, political gangs were organized by Fernando Wood, the defeatist former Mayor of New York. They captured and held New York and 1,000 people, most of them Negroes, were killed.

First, this “history” slanders the people of New York. What Minor says is misleading in the extreme.

Roots of Antagonism

Organized labor was supporting the Republican Party and Lincoln by 1863, supporting them fully. But the Southerners who dominated the old Democratic Party had always had a following among the unorganized in Northern cities. These were very often immigrants, and in New York the immigrants were chiefly Irish. They were the ones who suffered from and feared more the danger of Negro competition in industry. Into this situation came the high prices and profiteering of the war, exasperating everybody. Finally the government was allowing rich men to buy off military service. The attempt to enforce the draft provoked riots, but it was especially the Irish masses who formed the mob. The German immigrants noticeably held off.

Nobody expects Minor, in a newspaper article to tell the complete story, but at any rate it should not be told in a way that gives a false impression of what happened.

The Civil War in America

In reality, the Civil War was one of the greatest and most progressive wars in history. Its very name, civil war, tells us that it was a REVOLUTIONARY WAR, a war between contending forces in the same country. It destroyed chattel slavery. It abolished the threat of a divided America: After the Civil War the United States economy lifted this country into its present place as the most powerful nation in the world. Imagine what the United States would have been like today if slavery had continued in the Southern states.

Today we have arrived at a stage where the capitalist economy is as rotten as was the slave economy of those days. Robert Minor and his associates of the Communist Party (we beg their pardon), the Communist Political Association, have in day a gone by told us the horrible truths abput capitalism. The Civil War today which would correspond to the Civil War of 1861 is a war between the only progressive class today, the working class, and, the enemies of progress, the capitalist class. And just as the Negroes fought with the capitalists who were progressive in those days, so today, if a new civil war should take place, the Negroes should and, we have no doubt, would find themselves on the side of the workers.

But today we are in an imperialist war. As Minor told us up to June 1941, i.e., when Russia was invaded, the war was being fought for imperialist purposes and could result only in increased chains and slavery for the colonial peoples abroad and greater burdens and sufferings for the American masses.

Today however, Minor has the nerve to say: “The United States is passing through the early stage of a transition of its inner life, inevitable, long overdue and absolutely necessary for its stability, safety and prosperity.”

This is a bare-faced attempt to make the Negroes, believe that some sort of revolution is taking place in the United States today and therefore they must support the Roosevelt government, which is leading this revolution.

Here we have the crudest and most dishonest perversion of history. Minor brought in the draft riots only to help make the imperialist war into a revolutionary war. The Roosevelt government is as revolutionary as a dead fish. It is the government of Jim Crow. The Negroes had to threaten a march on Washington before the FEPC was formed. The Roosevelt government did not dare to make even a declaration of principle in the convention of the Democratic Party. For a Vice-President it had to take Missouri’s Truman, to please the Southerners. Southern congressmen are high up in its councils. The New Deal, after seven years, still could not get rid of ten million unemployed. Roosevelt, himself says that the New Deal is dead. Where is this “transformation ... of inner life” which characterizes the government? All Minor means is that Roosevelt is allied with Stalinist Russia and to maintain this alliance the Communist Party will bamboozle the working class, break strikes, urge incentive pay, try to make the Negroes believe that Roosevelt is their savior. For this purpose they pervert history and create a revolutionary transformation in America at the typewriter.

Guarding History from the Liars

Negroes, very rightly, make a study of Negro history. They have had to rescue it from the lies and perversions of the capitalists. Now they have to guard it from the lies and perversions of the Stalinists.

We can sum up the main lesson of that history. It is this: to free the Negroes from chattel slavery, a revolution was needed, a revolution that put the capitalist class in undisputed economic and political power. To free the Negroes from the crimes of capitalism, a revolution is needed – one that will put the working class in full economic and political power. Only a renegade revolutionary like Minor and a renegade party like the Communist Party (we beg their pardon, the Communist Political Association), can pretend that this imperialist war is a revolution.

The Communist Party was founded to lead the American workers’ revolution, for socialism and to struggle against imperialist war. Today they are the loudest and most active supporters of imperialist war and bankrupt American capitalism which can only employ the full population in wartime. The Negroes should realize that the indispensable party for militants who see clearly the past and future of this country is not the Communist Political Association, which is ashamed even to call itself a party, but a great mass party of labor – the organized workers and their allies of the office and the farm.

The Workers Party is the rallying ground for all, whites and Negroes alike, who see the need for a Labor Party and the equal need to expose the lies, current and historical, of the renegade Communist Party.

Last updated on 15 December 2015