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Exposé by WLB Official

American Capitalists Embrace Fascism

(27 December 1943)

From Labor Action, Vol. 7 No. 52, 27 December 1943, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Charles E. Wilson, No. 2 man of the War Production Board, has not been headline news. But all at once he becomes a much talked about man. He is being quoted, approved of, disapproved of. He certainly started something. It happened at the recent convention of the National Association of Manufacturers in New York.

You would expect a man like Wilson to be at a get-together of capitalists both as a capitalist who heads the great General Electric Company combine and at the No. 2 man of the WPB. But it was no routine speech that Mr. Wilson made. He surprised the august body of industrial masters when he, as one of them, began to bawl them out. He did so on two counts:

He accused them of working for their own private interests and ambitions. He minced no words about the cliques and special interests wanting to win complete victory for themselves regardless of the consequences. He berated the industrialists “trying to position themselves for the post-war period long before the country is out of danger and long before our fighting men have any chance to position themselves.”

But it was not merely on this score of grabbing war profits unprecedented in history by means fair and foul – and already maneuvering for postwar profits – that Mr. Wilson flayed his class.

If Words Have a Meaning

He told them also: “I am deeply alarmed today over the possibility that a right wing reaction may draw some sections of capital so far away from our traditions as to imperil the entire structure of American life as we know it.” He upbraided the “American breed of maggot” ready to spread the poison of hate. He warned the moguls of industry .”to withhold encouragement from dangerous men who preach disunity.”

If words have any meaning, Mr. Wilson was accusing the American industrial, masters of fascist tendencies. He is alarmed at their drawing away from “American life as we know it” toward fascism. By implication he said that they are encouraging the “little Hitlers” of the country who are peddling the poison of anti-Semite, anti-Negro, anti-labor propaganda. The “encouragement” most needed by these fascistic elements is, of course, money. This is, obviously, being supplied them by those who have it.

In a nutshell, Mr. Wilson sees sections of his fellow capitalists not only ruthlessly determined to get more and more pelf and power. He sees them making preparations to retain their mastery by the same methods of race hate, and labor suppression employed by Hitler, Mussolini and the whole breed of fascists.

Could Be Profits Are Too High

The reactions in the capitalist press to Mr. Wilson’s accusations are most interesting. Especially, noteworthy are the comments of two very conservative, very pro-capitalist columnists, namely, David Lawrence in the New York Sun, and Arthur Krock in the New York Times.

Both show a little fear. Both indicate that maybe it would be better for the capitalists to allow the government to shave off some of their bulging war profits under the renegotiation of war contracts law – out of which the teeth are being pulled by Congress under big business pressure.

Says Mr. Lawrence: “Business men, to be sure, do not want arbitrary action in renegotiation procedures, but, at the same time, any system that results in the earning of large profits will not stand public scrutiny ... When the service men get hack home and read the headlines of congressional inquiries into war profits, they will wonder what was done back home when they were at war – how much indeed was charged up against the taxpayers by a Congress that didn’t look out for the broad public interest.”

Mr. Krock goes even further. He warns against war corporate profits “at levels that, when spotlighted after the war, as they are sure to be, may infuriate the country, produce a reckless and destructive backswing against industry and start all over again the cycle of pacifism and ‘merchants-of-death’ propaganda ...”

But this is exactly what the industrialists who encourage and subsidize fascism in this country are preparing for. They will offer to the discontented a couple of scapegoats, namely, the Jews and the Negroes. In the ensuing strife the fascist hordes will try to demolish the labor movement which alone can take organized action against the capitalists and their encroaching fascism.

This, of course, is the familiar pattern designed by Hitler. Yet of the fascist tendencies of American capitalism exposed by Mr. Wilson, Krock has nothing to say except that it is a New Deal invention.

Fascism and “Liberal” Capitalists

The question naturally arises as to why Mr. Wilson, himself a top capitalist, is not with the sections of the capitalist class that are hell bent for fascism.

There always are divisions within a class, in the capitalist class there are more reactionary and more liberal elements, depending on how they consider their class interests will be best served. Mr. Wilson belongs to the group that thinks it can serve the ultimate interests of capitalism and the capitalist class by practising a little moderation now, by softening up labor through collaboration, by trying to pepper-and-salt the evils of the capitalist system.

But the liberal elements of the capitalist class cannot be trusted by labor in its fight against fascism. This has been proved to the hilt in Germany. Every element of the capitalist class recognizes the working people as their social enemies. When fascism is on one side and militant labor on the other, every capitalist knows which side he wants to win.

By its own basic interests the working class is the only force that can fight fascism. Upon the working class also depends the fate of all those other sections of the population that would be the victims of fascism. The Jews, the Negroes, the petty business men, the small independent farmers, the struggling professional people – these would all be ground down by the iron heel of fascism, along with the working class,

Mr. Wilson’s exposé of the fascist trend in the capitalist class can be taken by organized labor as nothing less than a warning to be prepared. Educational and organizational measures are urgently needed.

Labor – On Guard Now!

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