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Albert Gates

Labor Action Embarks Upon Its Sixth Year
as the Champion of International Socialism

(29 April 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 17, 29 April 1946, p. 3-M.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

ON MAY 1, 1940, the first issue of Labor Action came off the press to begin its appearance as the outstanding labor and socialist weekly in the country.

It was indeed a perilous time to originate a new paper. The second world imperialist war had already begun in Europe and although the United States was not yet a belligerent nation, the nature of the war and the course of action pursued by the Roosevelt Administration made her military entrance inevitable.

Those were the days of swift war mobilization of the economy and the physical resources of the nation. The war economy, planned for many years in advance, began to operate swiftly. The great mass of men between the years of eighteen and forty-five began to be drafted in the millions for a slaughter whose purposes were in no way different from the imperialist slaughter of 1914–18. This war, too, was a war for markets, natural resources, territory – for profit.

The small band of people, members of the Workers Party, who bent all their energies to promote Labor Action and to secure its existence went about their business in response to the task imposed on them by their socialist program and ideal: to speak out the truth about the war, to tell why it was fought and what its bad results must be. To the everlasting credit of Labor Action, it was the only working class paper which met the declaration of war by the United States with a resounding, truthful manifesto against it. No other paper did it. The labor press joined their officialdom in support of the war. The other so-called radical and “socialist” papers were either silent, confused or engaging in support of imperialist barbarism.

The Manifesto of the Workers Party, The World in Flames, made a penetrating analysis of the causes of the war which lay in the rivalries of the capitalist powers for the riches of the world. It pointed out that an imperialist war could not be fought for democratic aims, for the people; that the war was against true democracy and against the interests of the people. The manifesto warned the workers of this country that the war economy meant saddling the workers with the burdens of war while industry and finance, the capitalist class, would, as they did in the first world war, enrich themselves at the expense of the people.

The manifesto warned that the end of the war would find the world faced with the same unsolved problems which capitalism created. That for the mass of people of the world, the war meant death, hunger, disease and destruction. For the American workers it meant a lower standard of living, rising costs in those commodities required in order to live, and a general insecurity of life.

Spoke for Labor During War

From the date of the publication of that famous manifesto, Labor Action remained true to its banner of working class solidarity and world socialism. It never hesitated, whatever the issue, to speak in the interests of labor here and abroad. It analyzed the real meaning of Roosevelt’s “equality of sacrifice” program. It described the conduct of the labor officialdom in giving up the strike weapon and accepting Roosevelt’s request for a “no-strike pledge” without the slightest guarantees to labor, as a murderous weapon in the hands of the bosses which could only result in an increase of their war profits at the expense of every worker and his family.

The government organized the war economy, planned its production, supplied raw materials, gave out contracts and guaranteed the bosses high profits. Roosevelt, who could not solve the problem of unemployment during peacetime, did solve it during war for the purposes of creating the means of mass destruction. There were plenty of jobs, but under conditions difficult for labor.

The worker, faced with a steadily rising cost of living, could not achieve a substantial measure of economic security, even temporarily, because his wages were frozen. The working class as a whole was bound hand and foot by the no-strike pledge. The capitalists, enriched by the war and a war economy which they directed through their immediate representatives, used every provocation imaginable to break down the union standards of work won after many years of struggle. Labor worked long hours under any ahd all conditions, while wages were pegged to an outlived “Little Steel” Formula.

Remember the War Labor Board

Behind this conspiracy was the War Labor Board, the inhuman graveyard of labor’s wage demands. Its role was to pile up case upon case, thereby making it impossible to redress labor’s wage demands. But while tire capitalist government operated efficiently in keeping the workers of this country chained to the war machine, it made a farce of rationing and price control. For all of this labor paid with its blood, sweat and tears.

It was no wonder that, despite the conservative and even reactionary role of the labor officialdom, thousands of workers went out on strike, and that the coal miners, engaged in the most dangerous of occupations, struck four times against that pack of wolves known as coal operators, who were backed by all the forces of capitalism, the government, the press, the radio, and the “minions of the law.” Occupation of struck plants by troops, often invited by labor leaders, proved fatal to the workers, for in each case production was resumed, profits for the bosses continued and the workers received either slight wage increases or nothing at all.

In this situation, Labor Action stood out almost alone, as the champion of the interests of labor. Very early in these struggles it campaigned for revision of the Little Steel Formula, for the abolition of the WLB and the resumption of collective bargaining and for rescinding the nostrike pledge.

Labor Action threw its support to every fight made by labor, big or small. It exposed a rationing system directed against the poor and revealed the conspiracy of big business to rob and cheat the people in yet another way, through gigantic, well-organized black markets.

Labor Action’s Internationalism

But that was not all. As a socialist paper devoted to the abolition of the capitalist system of profit and exploitation of the people, Labor Action defended the interests of oppressed people the world over, showing how these interests were common to all who labor. It called for support to those peoples fighting for their national sovereignty and independence. It struck out against the hypocrisy of the Four Freedoms and the Atlantic Charter, forecasting that they were merely propaganda vehicles of the Allies to entice support of the people for their brigand’s war. Labor Action declared that all the Allies, including Stalin’s Russia in its own way were imperialists and that the close of the war would demonstrate it fully.

Before the war came to an end, the world was shocked by the explosion of Hiroshima which disclosed the proud product of the “arsenal of democracy,” the atom bomb, before whose destructive powers the whole past history of slaughters pales. So enormous is the destructive potential of the atom bomb that the control of atomic energy in the hands of imperialism threatens the whole of mankind and its civilization. Labor Action, in individual articles and in series form subjected the development of atomic warfare to a searching analysis showing why socialism, a system free of classes, profits, exploitation and war was the only hope for humanity, for the peace, freedom and security of all the people.

The immediate post-war period – a period of preparation for a third world war, increasing misery of peoples in Europe and Asia, growing insecurity of all who toil – finds Labor Action carrying on in its militant traditions, as the champion of the working class and all oppressed peoples here and abroad.

Labor’s Post-War Struggles

The post-war period will be accompanied by great struggles of the workers in the United States for security. The General Motors’ strike already exhibited that these struggles, coming after a war in which the whole social order was mobilized for destruction, will be of a higher order and fought with greater consciousness by labor.

In Europe and Asia the fight of the peoples for life will also be on a high plane.

In this great clash between the forces of progress represented by the mass of people and in the first place, the workers, and the forces of capitalist and bureaucratic exploiters, Labor Action will continue its great aim: to help raise these struggles to a socialist level, to seek the abolition of the rotten system of capitalist exploitation, of wealth concentrated in the hands of a few and poverty for the tens of millions, of estates for a handful of rich and hovel for the people, of fine foods and delicacies for a handful and hunger for the mass of people, of security for the rich and insecurity for those who work in, order to live. It will fight for a socialist society of plenty for all.

Labor Action appeared regularly throughout the war as a four page weekly. This was made possible by the great sacrifices of its supporters, by the indefatigable devotion of its contributors and staff members.

Forward to a Regular 8-Pager!

But that is not enough. The postwar period is rife with problems of a decaying and complex society. Labor Action is far too small to deal adequately with the great and burning questions of the day. Expansion of Labor Action to eight pages weekly is indispensable for maintaining its past high level. There is only one way it can be done: Every reader, sympathizer and supporter of Labor Action should get behind the drive for the eight-pager and thus help to insure another six years of prosperous existence for the outstanding labor and socialist weekly in the country.

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