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Labor Action Answers Readers’ Questions:

The Principles Labor Action Stands For

(January 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 3, 15 January 1945, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).


Enclosed is a subscription for your paper. Just under the wire in your subscription drive. I am an industrial worker and I realise that while some of your statements are deliberately exaggerated, you come nearer the truth than the big daily papers like the Cleveland News.

I like the way you dish out the facts on the telephone strike, the shell shortage, the cigarette shortage, the whiskey shortage, income tax, etc.

The big daily papers were seen to retract some of their statements on the shell shortage. I wish there could be a daily paper in Cleveland that would print things from the worker’s point of view.

I have just finished talking with a factory owner. His viewpoint on industrial policy is narrow, selfish and entirely one-sided, yet sane, orderly and sensible within itself. That guy believes in the divine right of management and that the entrepreneur can do no wrong. Well, Louis the XIV and Marie Antoinette felt that way too before they had their heads chopped off.

Now, I sound like a red hot revolutionary but I am really a conservative person with a “middle class” background. At times I burn up when your paper seems to be a colored man’s paper, but I suppose that is only my Anglo-Saxon prejudice.

I know you favor abolition of the wage system as a whole. I realize this is just a corollary to the abolition of piecework. That the two sort of go together. I’d like to hear news of the various shops in Cleveland, because I have worked in quite a few of them and know a lot of guys who work there.


R.K., Willoughby, Ohio


Dear R.K.

Thanks for your subscription and your interesting letter. You raise some questions that we think many of our readers would like to see taken up.

Does Labor Action Exaggerate?

We believe that your reaction (“some of your statements are deliberately exaggerated”) comes from the contrast between a militant paper fighting in labor’s interests, such as Labor Action, and what you refer to as the “big daily papers,” which are in reality big business enterprises and give us a daily dose of big business propaganda.

We try to present our news and views in a dramatic fashion, but above anything else, we believe in telling the truth to labor. We believe only the truth can serve the cause of labor’s progress. Contrary to the big business newspapers, we print facts they wish to conceal; we play up the profits of big business on page one, whereas “they bury them in the financial columns if they print them at all.

“Divine Right of Management”

And just as your entrepreneur has a point of view, so do we. Whereas he believes in the “divine right of management,” we believe that the only progressive force in society is the working class. The vast majority of industrial magnates did not get there by “working their way up,” but by piracy, robbery and milking the public.

Does this statement seem “deliberately exaggerated”? We refer you to Gustavus Myers’ History of the Great American Fortunes or Ferdinand Lundberg’s America’s Sixty Families for confirmation of the origins of great wealth.

And we can assemble a whole army of facts to show that only the workers, organized and still-to-be organized, are the only progressive force in society.

Capitalism is outlived. It has submitted the people to two imperialist world wars within the space of one generation. It has submitted us to recurrent crises, each one worse than the previous one, with a post-war depression just around the corner. It is minting profits, while forty per cent of American workers still make under sixty-five cents an hour. (Again, this is not an overstatement, but on of those facts you like to read in Labor Action.)

On the other hand, it is only labor which fights for progress, for higher wages, against profiteering. Labor, being the biggest single organized force in the nation, Without a stake in the profit system, has the potentiality of organizing its own political party to take over the complete administration of government and industry. Not all of labor is yet conscious of its historic mission. To help make it conscious is the purpose of Labor Action.

“A Colored Man’s Paper”

While our ideas for complete political, social and economic equality of the Negro conflict with many workers’ “Anglo-Saxon prejudices,” we can only be proud that you and others sometimes think of Labor Action as “a colored man’s paper.” In a society of inequality, which capitalism is, the Negro has been, relegated to the lowest position due only to the color of his skin.

This menial position has been reinforced by prejudice, tradition, competition between Negroes and whites for jobs, etc. It is made all the more difficult to overcome this prejudice when the federal government and the state legislatures embody Jim Crow in law and practice – the poll-tax in the South, which prevents millions of Negroes as well as whites from voting; Jim Crow practices in the Army, Navy and Air Forces.

You know that the prejudice against and treatment of the Negroes in this country is no different from Hitler’s handling of the Jews. Do you know also, that in other countries – England, France, Italy – where people have not been brought up in prejudice, they cannot understand the American attitude toward colored people? That Negro soldiers are accepted into the homes and hearts of the people, like any white soldier? That any prejudice which exists is imported from the U.S.?

But again, through cooperation and understanding in the unions, black and white are learning that their interests are identical, that they are both part of the working class, which must unite in the struggle for a government of labor. The first step toward breaking down the barriers is to recognize a prejudice for what it really is – as you have already done.

Abolition of the Wage System?

Yes, we’re for it. We believe the “divine right of management,” acquired, not through Providence but through the unholy exploitation of the people, should belong to those who do the work of society. Let the organized working people manage industry, eliminate private profit, plan production to suit the needs of the people – for peace, prosperity and plenty for all!


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