Mary Bell Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Mary Bell

Purge Octopus Now Reaches Out
for ADA and SP

(3 April 1950)

From Labor Action, Vol. 14 No. 14, 3 April 1950, pp. 1 & 8.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

What was foreseen happened last week when Guy Gabriel son, chairman of the Republican National Committee, attacked “socialists” as having “no more place in the official family of the president of the U.S. than have Communists in government,” in a Lincoln, Neb., speech, and later in Omaha when he characterized Americans for Democratic Action as “a hybrid, nefarious, political organization” of “New Dealers, Fair Dealers, radicals. Socialists and just plain bureaucrats who would like to get back oh the payroll.”

It was Inevitable that the use of undemocratic and totalitarian measures to oust the Stalinists, real agents of a totalitarian power, from political life and labor unions, should be followed by the use of similar measures against genuine radicals and liberals, some of whom participated in or blinked at the suppression of civil liberties in the fight against the Stalinists.

This totalitarian chill that is sweeping the country as part of the cold war does not emanate solely from the Republicans. Senator McCarthy may be putting on a sideshow but he is only burlesquing ideas straight out of the Democratic Party repertoire of witchhunts, loyalty purges and security checks. The best policy the Republicans have found so far is “me-tooism” on this also.

The New York Post on March 22 carried the story of a couple of ECA rejectees – ECA is an administration project, set up by Congress, and administered by the very State Department now under Republican accusation for being a hotbed of “subversives.” One rejectee’s job application was turned down because, while he is a time-study expert and industrial engineer, in the ’30s he belonged to the Proletarian Party, a tiny non-Stalinist group which believed Russia to be a workers’ state. Another rejectee belonged to the Socialist Party in the ’30s and once helped the North American Committee to Aid Spanish Democracy, started as a united front of socialists, communists and liberals but later taken over by the communists and listed as a communist organization on the attorney general’s infamous list.

The ECA limits employment in the Marshall Plan administration to persons loyal to the United States and its form of government who are not and never have been members of “any organization advocating contrary views,”

Irony for ADA

When Gabrielson avowed that “Socialism is just the first step toward Communism,” and that “Socialists follow the lead of the British Labor Party in the same way that Communists follow a party line laid down in Moscow,” we are certain that he was not concerned with any niceties about the varying stages in the transformation of society in accordance with Marxian theory. He was merely lumping socialists with the totalitarian agents of Stalinist society as the basis for their riddance from government. He was also lumping in the same bag the liberals who stand for the “best” in capitalism and are quite opposed to socialism. By the rule of totalitarian logic, the whole kit and caboodle is “guilty by association.”

It is true that the socialists (even those of Norman Thomas’ Socialist Party) and liberals are critics, mild or severe, of the capitalist system. But it is also distressingly true that the particular brand of socialists and liberals that he is attaching, that is, members of ADA, belong to an organization that helped into power the administration that launched the purge against “subversives,” and from whom the Republicans are only taking cues. Senators Humphrey of Minnesota and Myers of Pennsylvania are so-called Democrats. The totalitarian mind cannot stand the small degrees of difference. It would reduce political life to dead gray uniformity – which would necessitate a police state to keep opinions alike and loyal only to the existing form of government.

The terrible irony of the situation is that most of the exsocialists and liberals gravitated to the Democratic Party out of hatred of Stalinism and disillusionment with socialism, which they too identified with the Stalinist perversion. The latter is a major political belief which many of them regrettably share with Senator McCarthy and the attorney general.

The degeneration of Russian society and the degeneration of capitalist society gives rise to new political types, the totalitarian collectivists of the Stalinist variety on the one hand, and the totalitarian liberals on the other. The credo of the latter has been that Stalinism is so vile that any means is legitimate to combat it, even undemocratic measures. In concrete political life, this has meant the flight of certain types of socialists, liberals and labor leaders to the camp of capitalism, in most cases, to the Democratic Party, and the support of the administration that drew up the original “subversive” list, which is a government-by-decree technique that is completely extra-legal.

Chickens Home to Roost

Within the labor unions, this trend has meant the ousting of the Stalinists by bureaucratic and other undemocratic practices. The labor bureaucracy is strewn with the bleached bones of ex-socialists and ex-radicals of all kinds who have pursued this policy.

These people are fhe real Machiavellians, not the Marxian socialists who have always tried to relate the means to the goal, and understand that democratic ends require democratic means to attain them. The chickens are coming home to roost for the reformists, the compromisers, the advocates of half-measures, the postpones of socialism. One of the main reasons for the march of reaction in this country is the complete gutlessness of labor leaders, liberals and radicals of all stripes on the matter of civil liberties.

Will they wake up now that the flood threatens to engulf them? We fervently hope so. The tide can be stemmed. The forces exist. The ranks of labor and the people are not corrupted. They can be aroused. All they need is courageous leadership, and they will call a halt to the witchhunt.

A commission of inquiry, such as Labor Action has suggested, into the illegal methods of the FBI, the attorney general’s list – a commission which would give open hearings to the victims, which would seek legal redress – could be a beginning.

Mary Bell Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers’ Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated:10 January 2024