Susan Green Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Susan Green

Wallace – 1943 Model Trust-Buster

A Phoney “Era of the Common Man”

(18 October 1943)

From Labor Action, Vol. 7 No. 42, 18 October 1943, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

There is no denying that the common man needs an “era” – or two or three.

But when a capitalist politician – be he Vice-President Wallace or anybody else – assumes the role of modern messiah, a socialist has legitimate doubts. For how can a capitalist politician who defends the boss profit system be on the level about the “era of the common man”?

And Mr. Wallace thinks the boss profit system is just fine.

However – whether he realizes the contradiction of not – he says he is against “a small group seeking to parcel out the resources and markets of the world so as to control production, prices, distribution and the very life-blood of world industry.”

This champion of the “common man” has recently locked horns with the Standard Oil trust and called it names in public. And he so bravely declares: “The international monopolists should be conspicuous by their absence at the peace table.”

In his recent speeches Mr. Wallace has implied that the great industrial monopolies and international cartels stand between the common man and his era. Do away with these or curb them and – presto! – we will have that “economic democracy” about which he talks so much.

Wallace’s Game an Old One Mr. Walalce is another trust-buster – 1943 model. Other messiahs of the “common man” have before blasted the truats as the great evil which prevents dear old capitalism from being the benevolent institution it really is at heart. But it has all been to no avail!

As far back as 1890 the trust-busters had the Sherman anti-trust law passed to restore – in the 1943 words of Mr. Wallace – “American business principles of free private enterprise and equal opportunity.” But the development of capitalism from “a free competitive system” to monopoly could not be stepped by law.

Under the noses of the demagogues and the lawmakers of those days – and in spite of the anti-trust law – the Standard Oil octopus developed, the monopolistic National Sugar Refining Company blossomed, J.P. Morgan completed the structure of the United States Steel trust, and the basis of modern monopoly capitalism was laid.

Other “Friends of the People”

Later, Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Taft found it very convenient to become the “friends of the people” merely by lambasting the trusts. And actually, lawsuits were brought against Standard Oil, American Tobacco and other trusts – to “bust” them. Formally and legally they were dissolved into several smaller companies, but what a farce! The dissolutions were in name only. Trustification continued more than ever.

Woodrow Wilson waa another trust-busting champion of “freedom.” During his administration the Clayton anti-trust law of 1914 was passed. This law the historian Charles Beard described as “an elaborate measure which IN LETTER at least threatened to tear apart all combinations large enough to control prices in their respective areas.” But the Clayton anti-trust law was also absolutely ineffective in stopping capitalist consolidation for greater profit and economic domination by the few.

The best proof is that the trusts of Woodrow Wilson’s day have grown to the magnitude of the international cartels against which Mr. Wallace flings his fiery words today.

There has been for many years in the U.S. Department of Justice a full-time, fully-manned anti-trust department. Indictments are made, suits filed, trials held against the wicked trusts – and they are wicked.

Nevertheless, their power increases. They gobble up all the industrial wealth that counts. And the funniest thing is that they have become high-pressure salesmen of “free enterprise” through their radio stooges and their press – meaning, of course, complete freedom for the monopolists to profit from the labor of the people.

No, the demagogic trust-busters who came end went before Mr. Wallace could not make the wheel of economic forces rotate backward – and neither can he. National trusts, international cartels and international imperialism were inevitable under modern capitalism. In fact, that IS modern capitalism.

Take a Look at the Giants

Have a look at the American trusts branching out into international cartels that Mr. Wallace wishes to bust. Here is a partial list of this country’s industrial giants, tied up with I.G. Farbenindustrien, Krupp and other German trusts as well as with the industrial monopolists of Great Britain and other countries:

Standard Oil, duPont, Aluminum Company of America, General Motors, Ford, Remington Arms, General Electric, Westinghouse Electric, National Cash Register, American Rolling Mill, International Tel. & Tel., General Aniline, Sterling Products, Winthrop Chemical, North American Rayon, American Bemberg.

Here are the giants of nearly every branch of American industry. Through financial connections and “interlocking directorates,” the owners of these corporations centrol manufacturing, mining, transportation, power, farming, insurance, finance, in a word, here is American capitalism, which has become monopoly capitalism – breaking all barriers to profits just as it broke small-scale business.

Capitalism or Socialism?

Mr. Wallace stands for capitalism. Today capitalism is monopoly capitalism. There is no other. The wheel of economic development cannot be turned back.

Nor is it desirable to turn it back. Combinations in industry for the elimination of the waste and the inefficiency of small-scale production are progressive – just as technological development itself is progressive, although under the boss system it has meant hardship for the workers. Similarly, international industrial combinations for the pooling of inventions, resources, etc., are in themselves progressive.

The big question is: By whom are the trusts owned – for whose benefit? By whom are the international combinations made – and for whose benefit? Today they are the means of pegging prices, cornering markets, withholding inventions, etc. – all for the private profit of the economic masters of the earth at the expense of the masses.

What Socialism Can Do

The socialist says that progress consists not in smashing these giants of industry – which cannot be done, anyway – but in taking them away from the monopolists and making them the property of the whole people, those who produce all the wealth of the world. Owned by the toiling people, by the workers, the poor agricultural laborers, the dispossessed middle classes and all the poor, these giant industries could produce plenty for all. That is the road to socialism, to a world system, of peace, security and freedom – a true era of the “common man.”

The “common man” has no need for a 1943 model trust-buster. What he needs is to set rid of the selfish, profit-bloated trusts, and the profit-bloated capitalists.

Susan Green Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers’ Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 9 July 2015