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Susan Green

Roosevelt Joins the Chorus;
“New Deal” Is Outmoded

(3 January 1944)

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 1, 3 January 1944, pp. 1 & 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

President Roosevelt has pronounced the New Deal outmoded, belonging to the horse-and-buggy political category – dead. Thus the “father” of the New Deal buries his eleven-year-old offspring.

He took occasion to do this when an out-of-town correspondent, Dilworth Lupton, columnist of the Cleveland Press, visited a White House press conference and stopped to exchange greetings with the President. Later Mr. Lupton reported what the President said.

Stephen Early, presidential secretary, hastened to confirm Mr. Lupton’s report. Yes, said Mr. Early, the President wishes to drop the New Deal label and adopt a “Win the War” slogan. Mr. Early also profoundly observed that “The term New Deal was born in 1932. It is now 1943.”

What About the CIO?

This unceremonious action by President Roosevelt leaves the CIO Committee on Political Action holding the bag. This committee, with Sidney Hillman and other CIO leaders at its head, and with $700,000 of good union money to do it with, has been organizing for Mr. Roosevelt and the New Deal the waning support of the rank and file of labor and the working people.

To be sure the statement on political action adopted by the 1943 convention of the CIO criticizes the government for its failure on occasion to act with sufficient militancy and vigor. And Mr. Hillman got so “militant” as to assert: “We will make our commitment for 1944 in 1944.” But there was no doubt in anybody’s mind that the CIO Committee on Political Action is pro-Roosevelt-New Deal.

There has been propagated by labor leaders the most inexcusable rot about the New Deal. It has been presented as a shining chariot on which the working people will ride to a capitalist paradise – with Roosevelt, of course, in the driver’s seat. The fact is that the New Deal was designed not to save the working people but to save the capitalist class.

The crisis of 1929 was so deep and devastating that the capitalists were scared out of their wits. Their profit system was shaking at its foundations. Crashing banks, closed factories, million-hordes of unemployed, all looked like doom to them.

They were then in favor of any kind of a deal just so as to get their system functioning again – even with a few new features. Roosevelt was their man to try to stem the tide of mass discontent and to give the reeling capitalist system a leaning post.

But today the outlook of the capitalist class is very different. The majority is through with the so-called “socialistic trends and ideologies of the New Deal.” It is through with “coddling” labor. It is bent on putting the government out of business, and business on the basis of unrestricted “private enterprise.” If it has any fears about the stability of the capitalist system, it feels it can bolster it up by suppressing: labor – even to the extent of using fascist methods.

In a word, Mr. Early is quite right. The year 1943 is not the year 1932. Which means that Mr. Roosevelt has naturally and inevitably yielded to the reactionary trend of the capitalist class which he serves. This is the disease of which the New Deal died.

Not a Surprise

Though Mr. Roosevelt’s burial of the New Deal is not ceremonious, being done very quietly by making a statement to a single reporter, it is not unexpected. The corpse has certainly been smelling up the place for a long time.

The President’s anti-labor actions and his buckling under to congressional reactionaries have long ago indicated the moribund condition of the New Deal. Furthermore, there is. a considerable list of “fired” New Dealers – from Leon Henderson, bounced off the OPA, to Vice-President Wallace, bounced off the Board of Economic Welfare. In all cases Mr. Roosevelt has put into office men more acceptable to the reactionaries.

As much as he hated to do so, even the kow-towing Sidney Hillman has had to express his “disagreement with many of the things practised, not only through the agencies carrying out executive orders, but some of the things written into the executive orders themselves.” Mr. Roosevelt, be it remembered, is the man who issues executive orders these days – and they have very little of the New Deal about them.

Things on FDR’s Mind

Though the CIO leadership insists on rewarding its “friend” even after its “friend” has had a change of heart, Mr. Roosevelt has other fish to fry.

The CIO leadership plaintively begs: “Come back to the New Deal, Frank, and all will be forgiven.” But Franklin Delano Roosevelt answers: “That old thing is dead! I’ve got other things on my mind.”

Mr. Roosevelt is now so used to the shameful spectacle of labor leaders licking his boots that he isn’t too worried about their support.

Now he has on his mind the National Association of Manufacturers, who are going all-out against the same so-called “socialistic trends and ideologies of the New Deal.” Now he has on his mind the Bourbon Southern Democrats, who also don’t like the New Deal, to put it mildly. It is the favor of such as these that Roosevelt now curries. He officially buries the New Deal in order to enter into a new political deal with the whole gamut of reactionaries in this country.

Implications of CIO Position

Mr. Roosevelt is not frightened by the criticism of the labor leaders. He thinks he still has the labor movement bull-dozed to get its support for a fourth term. And no wonder! Did not the most militant labor organization in the country, the CIO, come out definitely with the capitulating statement: “We have no desire to organize another political party.”

As long as the labor movement is not confident enough to project its own class party, Mr. Roosevelt is not afraid. He thinks that as against a Republican – even the “liberal” Willkie – he can still pass as the better “friend” of labor.

Just consider the implications of what the CIO has done in regard to political action.

With the New Deal dead and its guardian angel about to bury it, the CIO leadership at its convention was so behind the times that it decided to go to town for both.

With big business, as always, financing the Democratic and Republican Parties to be sure to have its special interests protected, no matter which way an election goes, the CIO leadership can do no better than hog-tie labor to one of these boss outfits. With the president of the General Electric Company, now on the War Production Board, making public the fact that big business is supporting fascist elements, the CIO leadership is still opposed to labor taking political action independent of big business.

On to an Independent Labor Party!

The $700,000 of union money used by the CIO committee to, boost Roosevelt should have been the nest-egg for forming an independent Labor Party. Labor has no time to lose. Action as a class in its own interest is urgent. Pressing problems such as unemployment, soldier relief, fascism at home, can be solved only by labor itself – through its own class party working toward the establishment of a labor government.

Let Roosevelt bury his dead New Deal. For labor it was a harmful decoy. Labor’s next step is to turn its back on Roosevelt, on Wallace, on Willkie, on all so-called “friends” of labor, on all boss politics.

On to an independent Labor Party of the working class!

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