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Albert Gates

Labor Action in Review

(April 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 18, 30 April 1945, p. 8.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

This is indeed a grand occasion-to celebrate May Day together with the fifth anniversary of America’s ‘most’ militant labor and revolutionary socialist newspaper. The satisfaction on this anniversary is greater when it is remembered that many did not give Labor Action a long life, for the paper was born at the start of the second great imperialist war.

To start Labor Action at that crucial period of social dislocation seemed a hazardous undertaking. Labor Action and the Workers Party, with which it is associated, were new ventures. The future of both enterprises was difficult to foresee. But. to have carried them through successfully testifies to the power of the ideas and the vitality of the/movement behind them.

Aims of Labor Action

The aim of those responsible for the editorial policy of the paper was and is to offer the program and ideas of the Workers Party in simple terms, to guide the militant workers in their struggle for labor rights and interests, to teach them that the economic demands of labor, while important and necessary, were insufficient.

The economic struggle of the working class and all who toil must be joined to a political struggle against the political rule of the monopolistic capitalist class. To aid in the political development of the American working class, to help break it away from dependence, on capitalist politics and capitalist politicians; is still the great task of Labor Action.

The success of Labor Action manifested itself from the beginning. The response of the advanced workers enabled the paper to expand from a circulation of 5,000 to 12,000 in 1942. The next great step was the establishment of a one-cent Labor Action and the organization of a drive to increase the circulation by many thousands. Since then the circulation of the paper has risen to as high as 50,000 for special issues and now circulates at a steady rate of 25,000. weekly!

Labor Action circulates among a wide variety of American workers and farmers. Its readers number more than the actual circulation of the pager. It is read by the highest paid skilled workers and the poorest, most exploited sharecroppers of Southeast Missouri.

Over the momentous days of the past five years, Labor Action has established an exemplary record of struggle and devotion to the cause of labor and its freedom. For this very reason its existence was at one time threatened by the Post Office authorities. But the paper did not flinch in the defense of its rights to circulate its ideas.

When the war broke out, Labor Action published the manifesto of the Workers Party, declaring the war imperialist. It stated that the victors could only be the monopolistic capitalist classes of all countries who enriched themselves through profiteering from the destruction of lives and civilization. The manifesto pointed out that the masses in all countries were the main victims of the conflict. They bore the main burdens of war. Their economic conditions .deteriorated. They supplied the cannon-fodder for war. The hope of the people, said the manifesto of the Workers Party, was a socialist world of freedom, a system, of production for use and not for profit, a system that would eliminate exploitation for all time. Labor Action endorsed that manifesto and it has served to guide its writings ever since.

The economy of this country is an example of how the war has put enormous burdens upon labor. And yet the United States has felt the war less than other countries. The “equality of sacrifice” program of the Administration has turned out to mean that the sacrifices come essentially from the working people.

In Defense of Labor

For American labor, the war established long hours of toil, worsening conditions of labor, loss of rights gained after years of sacrifice and struggle, and a declining standard of living.

When the labor officialdom gave a no-strike pledge, it tied labor’s hands and served as a signal for every labor-baiter and union-buster to open up an assault upon the workers and their economic organizations.

With the war economy in the hands of big business, it was little wonder that wages remained stationary for the majority of workers, the cost of living rose continually higher, price ceilings were violated, quality of consumer goods deteriorated.

Labor paid the price for the enrichment of the capitalist class and for the greatest profits in the history of American business.

In this situation Labor Action spoke out valiantly in behalf of the workers. It has consistently fought against the Administration’s wage freeze, focused the spotlight on war profits, high prices, union-busting, and all attempts of reaction to tighten its grip upon the country.

Labor Action at all times kept its finger on the pulse of the labor movement. It consistently covered the leading conventions of the unions. It spread its message to all the workers.

Other highlights in the compaigns of our paper have been:

Some Things We Did

  1. The agitation for independent political action by the workers through the organization of a Labor party, with a militant working class program aimed at taking political power. We intervened in the election campaign to show that it was a struggle between two capitalist parties, calling upon the PAC to transform itself into an instrument for advancing the organization of a Labor Party.
  2. A campaign against the no-strike pledge, in which Labor Action joined with the progressive ranks of organized labor to fight a measure which has weakened the labor movement and given unheard-of power to government and industry to defeat the most urgent demands of the working class.
  3. A campaign against the, National War Labor Board as an instrument of big business whose purpose it is to maintain the wage freeze and prevent redress of labor’s wage demands. Labor Action has consistently voiced the best interests of labor, and called for the resignation of the labor members from the WLB.
  4. Labor Action carried on a vigorous defense of all minorities – Negro, Jewish, Mexican and religious – against the attacks of reaction. It has consistently fought discrimination in the armed forces as another expression of fascist racial doctrines which exist in so many places in the country, often fanned by big business interests.
  5. Consistent with the international solidarity of labor’s interests, it has reported the most important events in Europe, defending the rights of the European masses to national independence, their own governments, and complete freedom, peace and security. It has opposed intervention of any power in the affairs of any country and called upon all workers in this country to defend their class brothers across the ocean, to defend the European Revolution against counter-revolutionary intervention.

Labor Action is blazing a trail toward the socialist future. We have only just begun; a long and winding road lies ahead. But we are prepared for it by the conviction that there is no hope for a new and better world except through the achievement of the new social order of socialism, a world of peace, freedom and plenty for all.

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