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Susan Green

Labor Can Chase Them Back to Their Ratholes

America-Firsters Form
New Reactionary Front

(21 October 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 42, 21 October 1946, p. 8.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

A fascist front is forming again in this country. Fathered and financed by the backers of the fascistic America First movement of pre-Pearl Harbor days and by the ultra-reactionary leaders of the Liberty League, the offspring American Action Committee bows on the political stage.

This is no mere “crackpot” movement any more than Nazism was a product of Hitler’s “psychopathic genius.” Just as top capitalists of pre-war Germany (though now exonerated by the Allied judges at Nuremberg) projected the Nazi movement to break the labor front and to prepare for global war, so here today a sector of the capitalist class organizes to attack labor. This the American Action Committee literature openly states.

The connection between the American Action Committee and the America First Committee is so close that General Robert E. Wood, head of the mail order firm. Sears, Roebuck & Co., who was chairman of America First, is likewise chairman of the new outfit. Wood sent out confidential letters to a selected group, on his own letterhead with the company’s address, asking for checks or “transfer of stocks.” The $200,000 paid in or pledged toward the $750,000 sought to be raised did not come from small fry. Listed among the financial backers of the new organization are Joseph Pew of Sun Oil and other interests; Ernest T. Weir, the labor-hating steel magnate; Lamont du Pont, of the family that owns such big chunks of America; Samuel Weldon, Chicago banker; W. Homes Hartz, former head of the Illinois Manufacturers Association; Robert K. Christenberry, president of the Hotel Astor; publisher Robert R. McCormick of reactionary fame.

McCormick’s Two Cents

McCormick foreshadowed the new organization when, in an editorial in his Chicago Tribune some weeks ago, he wrote:

“The America First Committee disbanded too soon. Some pro-American organization is necessary, because of the extensive influence of the Reds in the Democratic Party and of the British in the Republican Party, especially on the eastern seaboard.”

Enrolled as charter members are some well-known reactionary, anti-labor propagandists. There is Merwin K. Hart, head of the National Economic Council, noted for its inventiveness in making anti-labor propaganda. Hart has been denounced by Justice Robert H. Jackson for “his pro-fascist leanings.” He has openly defended Franco. There is Upton Close, who speaks the views of the National Economic Council on its Mutual Network program. There is Robert M. Harriss, Queens County associate of Father Coughlin and the Christian Front and friend of former Congressman Hamilton Fish.

The Reactionary Ratholes

It is no fantasy to say that the American Action bunch aim to rally, organize and strengthen the fascist front. The connecting strings radiate into all the reactionary ratholes. For instance, the above-mentioned Hart is also one of the founders of the Tool Owners’ Union run by an army veteran from a Park Avenue address, following the political line of Frank E. Gannett’s ultra-conservative, anti-labor League for Constitutional Government. (You guessed it; the “tool owners” are the capitalists.) Again, Eugene M. Flitcraft, publisher of the anti-Semitic Gentile News of Oak Park, Ill., hailed. the new organization both in its news columns and editorially. There are still other irons in the fire.

Talmadge’s outfit in Georgia with its KKK tie-up could be interested; similarly with former Senator Reynolds’ supporters in the American Nationalist movement. Officially Gerald L.K. Smith may not be accepted by the American Actionists because of his ill-repute, but it goes without saying that many of Smith’s followers will be on deck. It is reported that rabble-rouser McWilliams wants to be counted in. And the Christian War Veterans, headed by Frederick Kister, deems itself qualified to become the fly-paper for catching discontented veterans for the fascist front.

Furthermore, the American Action Committee boasts of much support of the reactionaries in Congress. Chairman Wood, in his confidential letter to a selected group, wrote:

“The movement has been discussed with and has the blessing of the topmost Republican and Constitutional Democratic leaders in both houses of Congress and the support of many people you know.”

The “Constitutional Democrats,” be it remembered, are the Byrd-Bilbo-Rankin branch of the Democratic Party.

The American Action Committee makes its bow on the political stage at this time to try to swing the Congressional elections its way. General Wood informed his chosen group of men with money:

“The thing I like about it (AAC) is that it is not just another organization of propaganda, but one of direct political action within Congressional districts where there are good chances for success, and as fast as funds are sufficient to do a thorough job, it is expanding to other districts where real American Congressmen are being threatened with the PAC purge.”

Captain Edward A. Hayes, a former national commander of the American Legion, who has been put in charge of organizing the activities of the Wood outfit, says:

“We are in the process of developing doorbell-ringing organizations in Missouri, Oklahoma, Illinois, Wisconsin, New York, California and Washington, to assist Congressional candidates opposed to communistic tendencies in this country.”

Its Alleged Purposes

In the literature of the American Action Committee its purposes are stated to be: To organize the great majority of the Right more effectively than alien-minded radicals have organized the vociferous minorities of the Left. To meet head-on the CIO-PAC and its anti-American collaborationists by openly challenging and exposing their terroristic tactics, their smears and their deceits. To purge both major parties of opportunist leadership that sells out American principles for minorities’ votes. To protect from smear and political reprisal party leaders and public officials who uphold American principles and drive out those who compromise American principles.

It requires no long exposition to make clear what this super-nationalism means. We have the fascist and Nazi examples. When such as these talk about the “terroristic tactics” of their opponents, it is a virtual admission that they themselves are thinking of terror. Everybody who does not comply with their reactionary conceptions of what is good for the capitalist system will be dubbed “alien” and “communistic” – and driven out.

The one point that can be taken on its face value in the AAC program is that it is out to smash CIO-PAC. If the workers are not yet fully aware of the potentialities of PAC as a working class weapon to be turned into an independent Labor Party, the die-hard capitalist layers certainly feel it in their bones. For the present the fascistic AAC will train all its guns on target PAC.

The consolidation of the fascist front can and must be prevented by the workers. The activities and meetings of the American Action Committee will have to be picketed and exposed. The AAC is a renewed and strengthened effort at fascist organization. It will require the prompt, united, all-out effort of labor to prevent it from getting even a toe-hold.

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