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Susan Green

Why Labor Needs
a Party of Its Own

(3 June 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 22, 3 June 1946, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Somewhere else in this issue of Labor Action you will find the Workers Party Program for Organized Labor. This program has twelve demands, for the reconversion and post-war period, designed to give all the workers jobs and wage security, to solve the veterans’ problems, to give Negroes and other minorities full equality, to stop militarism, to build enough houses and public works, to break the power of the banks and monopolies by nationalization, to curb profits and accumulated fortunes. This gives an idea of the kind of program it is. The twelfth demand is the one pertinent in this article. It is for an Independent Labor Party and a Workers’ Government. Why does the Workers’ Party make as the conclusion of its program the demand for a Workers’ Government? The reason is ABC.

These demands, which are so reasonable, still cannot be obtained while the capitalist class is in power and a capitalist government rules the country. Technologically speaking, it is altogether possible for every family to have a guaranteed annual income of at least $5,000, on the basis of at most a thirty-hour work week – but not while private profit is the motive of production. It is perfectly feasible to spend $250,000,000,000 in the next five years for building houses, public works and so on – which is only a fraction of the wealth this country burned up in the war – but not while capitalist outlook and capitalist interests determine government expenditures. And what capitalist government would reduce all profits to a maximum of five percent on invested capital, put a ceiling of $25,000 on individual income and levy a capital tax on wealth over $50,000 – in order to pay for housing and other human needs out of profits?

In other words, the struggle for a life of minimum decency, as set forth in the Workers’ Party program, means a struggle against the whole capitalist system; it means that the workers must make a bid for power; it means they must visualize their class power in terms of a government by workers’ councils. An honest and comprehensive program covering all workers’ problems is, therefore, a declaration of lack of confidence in capitalism and in capitalist reforms, and an open challenge for workers’ power. That is why the twelfth demand in the Workers’ Party program is for a Workers’ Government.

Importance of Labor Party

There is another thing about this twelfth demand that needs explanation. It says: “An Independent Labor Party and a Workers’ Government.” See how the Independent Labor Party – and the outstanding need of American labor is to break away from the capitalist parties – is linked by the Workers’ Party with establishing a revolutionary Workers’ Government. There is an excellent reason for that link.

The Independent Labor Party must indeed have as its aim the establishment of a Workers’ Government, a revolutionary government as described above, which excludes the capitalist class and roots itself on the manual and mental workers in the factories and other places of work. Otherwise, what have you? A labor government like the one in England today.

Laborites moved over to the same parliamentary benches occupied by the British imperialist politicians before them, only to carry out the same capitalist and imperialist policies. In nationalizing the Bank of England and the mines, the Laborites are mortgaging the national income to government bondholders, with control of the bank and the mines remaining in the same capitalist hands. While housing lags dismally, while food and clothing are at record low, the Laborites maintain, at tremendous expense, the large military equipment of the Empire to suppress the colonial peoples.

The struggle between capital and labor must not result in a “labor” label pasted over the same old capitalist system. The revolutionary overthrow of the whole capitalist outfit, kit and kaboodle, can save what is left of civilization – before the atom bombs begin to fall. The future of mankind rests in workers’ powers, in socialism!

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Last updated: 22 January 2019