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Susan Green

Rep. Celler, Supporter of Capitalism,
Does Not Deserve Labor’s Vote

(29 July 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 30, 29 July 1946, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Emanuel Celler, United States Representative from the Fifteenth Congressional district of Brooklyn, first elected to Congress in 1922 and re-elected at every Congressional election since, will once more run on the Democratic Party ticket in November. No matter whom the Republican Party nominates, he will have no chance against Celler. For Celler has the reputation and the record of “a good legislator,” a “progressive.”

Max Shachtman, the candidate of the Workers Party in the Fifteenth, will turn his campaign guns on Celler. He will prove that Celler’s kind of record, his kind of “progressiveness,” is not good enough to solve the tremendous social problems that confront the common people today.

The Workers Party does not seek to detract one iota from Celler’s record. Yes, he was for the Fair Employment Practices Act. Yes, he spoke against peacetime military conscription. He stood for the continuation of OPA. He was against the Hobbs bill which attacks labor under the cloak of anti-racketeering.

But there is more to the record of a Congressman than he himself publicizes among his constituents. These other things must also be known and interpreted in terms of the needs of our times.

That Celler’s political creed is the continuation of the capitalist system and the strengthening of the capitalist class, is beyond doubt. During the war, the most devastating in all history, Celler’s mind was on profits to such an extent that he introduced an amendment to the constitution to fix a permanent tax limit of twenty-five per cent on income. He aimed to raise the “diminishing returns” of capital, wanted inducements to capital to take “risks,” and like the National Association of Manufacturers, declared: “The country cannot be lifted from economic depression except by private enterprise.” Celler could say that, though the havoc of the war was giving hourly proof of what humanity can expect from private enterprise.

To go into another field where Celler showed his great concern for big business: He is reputed to be progressive on the question of colonial independency. He ostentatiously communicated with Mahatma Ghandi asking what America could do to further Indian independence. But we find also that Celler is anxious to remove India from the British sterling bloc which he charges hinders AMERICAN CAPITALISM’S trade with India.

So the question arises: Is it the Indian masses Celler has uppermost in mind, or does he desire freedom for American capitalist economic penetration.

It is easy to understand Representative Celler’s loyalty to the capitalist system and his concern for bigger and better profit returns. He is by no means one of the least favored of that system. His own personal and economic interests are rooted in it.

He is a member of a large and prosperous law firm, whose life depends on the continuation of capitalist social relations. He seems also to have gone into “private enterprise” on his own, for Who’s Who in America of 1944–1945 lists him as having organized the Brooklyn National Bank and being chairman of the board of directors of the Brooklyn National Corporation. He enjoys the life of the well-to-do, including the expensive privileges of the better clubs and country clubs.

Furthermore, in his twenty-four years in the House of Representatives he has become a mainstay of the capitalist government, acquiring chairmanship of the House Committee on Judiciary.

Let us take a look at Celler’s record on the question of oppressed minorities. For instance, while he has rightly denounced British imperialism and demanded unrestricted immigration to Palestine, HAS HE PUT UP ANY REAL FIGHT TO OPEN THE DOORS OF THESE UNITED STATES TO JEWISH IMMIGRATION? On the Negro question he has indeed supported FEPC, but how can a man who truly stands for complete equality for the Negro people stay in the same political party that harbors the Bilbos and Talmadges and other inciters to Negro lynchings?

We are living in times that require radical solutions to burning problems, problems really of life or death. Politicians tied to a faith in capitalism cannot give such solutions. Politicians tied to capitalist political parties and the reactionaries they contain, cannot give such solutions in spite of their superficial “progressiveness.”

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Last updated: 5 July 2019