Chapter 17. United States of America in 1917-1947
1. Political parties
Since the First World War, in life and in the relations of the main American parties, there have been slow, but profound changes, the roots of which were laid at the end of the 19th century. Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats have ever been consistent in their policies. On the contrary, the diversity of the social composition made each party an arena for the struggle of conflicting interests.
The territorial base of democrats has always been the south. The plantation and industrial bourgeoisie of the south, which supports the Democrats, has been and remains interested in enslaving and exploiting the Negro population, which is the majority in some southern states. Democrats, a party that has traditionally been strong in the south since the Civil War, has always supported a policy of persecution of Negroes that allowed all means of violence - from eliminating Negroes from elections through deliberately created electoral restrictions to killings and lynchings. Here, in the south, the democrats have always fanned the racial conflict and pushed the class struggle to the background with it.
But in the south the area of their distribution was not limited. They recruited supporters among the poor in the industrial cities of the northeast, and among the farming population of the west, ruined by large capital. They united under their banner those dissatisfied with the regime of the Republican Party, catching them with demagoguery of phrase-mongers, captivating, but, in essence, insubstantial, not designed to fulfill the slogans of their electoral platforms. Rarely at the head of the federal government, they, however, set the tone in a number of states, holding here elective and non-elective posts, legislatures, municipal counties and cities.These features prepared from afar their sudden and crushing victory in 1932.
Among the Republicans, there were no less important contradictions before and after the First World War. Once grounded once and for all in the service of big capital, which has captured in its orbit the farming and the top of the proletariat, they have long since included in their program the protection of a strong central authority capable of defending a system of patronizing tariffs, "isolating" The United States is economically dependent on the rest of the world, and in foreign policy is a system of imperialist seizures.
Lenin was right when he said about the presidential election in 1912: "After the liberation of the Negroes, the difference between the two parties became less and less. The struggle of these parties was conducted mainly because of the question of the greater or lesser height of customs duties. "
However, high prices for industrial products and low prices for agricultural products have always aroused indignation of the farmers, and this was reflected in the strengthening of the left "radical" wing of the party - "progressive Republicans". At the beginning of the XX century. Moreover, the end of many years of political passivity of the American proletariat is coming to an end. In the presidential elections of 1912, the rise of the labor movement was marked by a sharp increase in the strike struggle. The Republican Party split, and at that moment the Democrats won, as might be expected. Their leader Woodrow Wilson became President.
The rise and fall of the Democrats.
The rule of the Democrats, however, showed quite clearly that the democratic party had managed since the end of the 19th century. become a party of big capital. Becoming President, Wilson diligently expanded the possessions of the United States in Latin America (military expeditions to Haiti, S. Domingo, to Mexico). He was also irreconcilable, like the Republicans, treating workers' organizations, the demands of the proletariat, and strikers. In 1916, being re-elected President, in which the mass voter's hope that Wilson would deter the United States from entry and the imperialist war played a significant role, it was precisely this that drove the United States into the war on the side of the Entente. This demanded a large capital from Wilson, who by that time had completely extended his control over the Democrats, who had turned into a sort of big-capital agent among the masses of farmers, the urban petty bourgeoisie and some of the workers who had imagined for ages that the Democrats defended the interests of the "little man" before greedy trunks and billionaires.
In the presidency of the Democrat Wilson, the workers of Muni and Billings came to prison for life for a completely false accusation. The reaction unfolded with might and main. Anti-labor laws raged in the states. Elections of the Congress in 1918, when the majority received the Republicans, were supposed to serve as a warning to the Democrats. But what could they do?The participation of the United States in the war and the victory of the Entente the democrats prepared their own subsequent collapse and the revival of the political might of the Republicans - their age-old rivals.
Years of the First World War were a time of rapid development of the industry of the United States, a tremendous expansion of foreign trade ties, growth of "national wealth". But this just meant a progressive depletion of the working masses. The United States has grown rich extraordinarily, but it is well known that under capitalism, national wealth is identical with people's poverty. Real wages fell, the standard of living of the American worker declined against the pre-war level. The years 1919-1920 were years of powerful growth of strikes. But this was a political verdict of the democratic party, which in the eyes of its mass adherents turned out to be an ordinary republican crow in democratic feathers.
In the presidential election of 1920, the democratic candidate failed. Republicans again and for a long time came to power. The rise of the Democrats turned out to be fragile.
Republicans are back in power.
President Harding, who in his youth was a woodcutter, compositor, then an insurance agent, and finally a party professional of the Republican Party, turned out to be the most faithful servant of big capital, deeply mired with his friends in criminal frauds. He suddenly and mysteriously died (1923) just when the investigations promised to reveal the President's particularly interesting exploits as the leader of speculators, bribe-takers, treasurers of the treasury. His vice-president was Vice-President Coolidge, an insignificant person, colorless and taciturn, to whom, however, the Republican Party ensured victory in the next elections of 1924.
In the fact that the economic crisis of the 1920s was replaced by a high economic situation in the presidency of Calvin Coolidge (1925-1929) and the band of praised prosperity ("Prosperity") came, the President was not at all guilty. To this prosperity The working masses and farmers also had nothing to do with it. Farmers were ruined, abandoned their lands, went to cities. Unemployment grew, became chronic. The proletariat was stormy. Approaching the terrible blows of the general economic crisis of capitalism. But in 1928, in a regular election, the Republican Hoover - a businessman, a big capitalist, a banker, a reactionary - swore before the voters that he would continue and expand the "Prosperity". Supported by banks and trusts, Herbert Hoover became President (1929-1933).
But then the Republican Party began to sink in the abyss of the worst economic crisis the United States had ever seen. It lasted all the time of Hoover's presidency. He raged in all areas of the economy. He lowered half of industrial output. Large capital and monopolies suffered little, on the contrary, in some industries they increased, but the working class and farmers were covered by unemployment, hunger, poverty, whose sizes were growing, evoked increasing indignation, turning into a political struggle that was revolutionary in nature. >
During his presidency, Hoover has allocated many millions of dollars to save banks and trusts that the crisis has hit. But he did almost nothing to help workers and farmers, and what he had to do, did not give any tangible results.
Democrats are back in power.
By the presidential elections of 1932 the situation was very clear. Ten years without a break the dominance of the Republicans ended in a severe economic crisis. In the eyes of voters, the ruling party was primarily to blame for the crisis. The widest circles of supporters of the Republicans recoiled from them, panicked by the horrifying dimensions of the economic disaster. This highlighted the profitable light of the Democrats, who did not hesitate to increase tenfold their opposition to the Republicans fervor. The chief plutocracy of New York, the notorious Wall Street, the street of the banking kings, did not find it necessary to compromise itself with the support of bankrupt Republicans. She had every reason to hope that the Democrats, even more decisively than the Republicans, would embark on the path of state aid to trusts and banks that had suffered from the crisis. Just the old demagogic democrats were prompting them now with the modern slogans of "state control" over the stock exchange and trusts, which was a good bait for the mass voters, but did not scare the rich. Democrats cleverly used and indignation of many millions of unemployed, and the desperation of the ruined farmers, and the general disappointment of all strata in the Republicans. Considering all this, the decisive circles of the plutocracy preferred, as they did before, to "change" from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party, without foreseeing any inconvenience from this.
They, however, in many ways miscalculated.
Very soon after the democrats came to power, it turned out that the American proletariat had changed a lot in its political moods and tactics, that he had learned a lot from the courageous struggle of the American Communist Party, that he was now able to connect with farmers, with everything that is progressive among the masses of the population, and that these masses will not now allow their political bulletins to be played by the old political speculators.
First Presidency of Roosevelt and attempts at social reforms.
New President Franklin Roosevelt launched an extremely impressive program of saving the capitalists, swallowed by the abyss of the crisis. But not two years later, it turned out that a mass voter who gave the Democrats victory in 42 states out of 48 is not only waiting, but also demanding the help of the state. Assistance to farmers who are desperate to abandon their farms, unemployed, dying of hunger, working, exhausted under the yoke of entrepreneurs, many millions of impoverished, demoralized, demoralized, threatening America outburst of indignation - this is what Roosevelt absolutely dared to say in his messages to Congress and radio, and in speeches at various congresses. He went beyond verbal reforms, which, perhaps, Wall Street did not expect. He announced the "new course" economic policy and moved on to a wide "regulation" economic life. Law "on the national administration of industry recovery"; sought to subordinate the capitalist economy to a certain plan and common norms. The so-called honest competition codes tried to regulate the relationship between labor and capital, set a minimum wage, a certain working week. Trade unions and collective agreements received official recognition. "Federal Emergency Management Administration"; distributed benefits to the needy, organized public works. A long series of other administrations sought to help farmers and other segments of the needy population. The leader of the Democrats, Franklin Roosevelt, came to power with the votes of the farmers, the urban petty bourgeoisie, the workers, and tried, in effect, modest but concrete measures to pay, although some of the bills he and his party lavishly distributed to workers during the election campaign. True, Roosevelt did this as an honest and consistent bourgeois democrat.
When the crisis receded in the spring of 1933, after being replaced by depression and then by some revival, the capitalist organizations began to clearly oppose all presidential attempts to "plan a farm" against all attempts to break with "healthy individualism", ie, with the freedom of speculation, exploitation, with the anarchy of production. And without this there could be no organized assistance to the masses, suffering not only from the crisis, but mainly from the disorder and spontaneity of the capitalist economy.
Capital decided to get rid of the trusteeship created by Roosevelt, which was already unnecessary for him and embarrassing for him, and the Supreme Court of the United States provided very effective assistance in this capital when in 1935-1936, announced the main events and institutions created under the law on the "national administration", not in accordance with the Constitution with all the consequences of such a decision. Capital decided to eliminate the Roosevelt system created by Roosevelt's five reactionary (republican) members of the Supreme Court, while Roosevelt did not have time to use his powers to do anything significant for the disadvantaged masses. The financial oligarchy demanded from Roosevelt not only to stop attempts to "direct" exchange, banks, industry, but also the curtailment of public works that cost the treasury several billion dollars, and the rejection of social legislation in the form of official recognition of trade unions and collective agreements. And if it's a "social" legislation was saved, it was only because the so-called "Wagner's law" was held in the Congress of 1935, on labor relations between workers and entrepreneurs, a law with which entrepreneurs in the future were practically considered quite small.
The second presidency of Roosevelt.
A new watershed between the parties. In this situation, the next presidential election took place in 1936. Roosevelt and his party won the support of many millions of opponents of extreme reaction who saw the danger that threatened the foundations of American bourgeois democracy. And although Roosevelt had 70% of the press against himself, although many of the powerful castles of the democratic party were armed against him, he nevertheless won a complete victory. All the Republicans' efforts to regain the voices of the farmers of the central west, who had been on the side of the Republicans from time immemorial, did not lead to anything. Only in the two extreme northeastern states did the Republican candidate win, where he received eight electors. Roosevelt won in 46 states out of 48.
The victory convinced Roosevelt that his line provides him a very large and united mass of voters. At the beginning of 1938, Roosevelt addressed the Congress with a message in which he declared that "one third of the population of the United States is malnourished, poorly dressed and lives in poor premises." He demanded from the Congress the adoption of a number of laws regulating working hours and wages. He could not, however, count on the full support of the congress in these endeavors: although Democrats had a majority in both houses of Congress, the bloc of the reactionary part of the Democrats with the republican minority of the congress was already quite evident at that time. And Roosevelt's proposal to reform the Supreme Court (that is, granting the President the right to appoint new members of the court in excess of the usual 9), which would immediately lead to a preponderance of Roosevelt's supporters in the Supreme Court, and without disruption would disarm this stronghold of anti-Roosevelt reaction, was rejected by the senate. Rejected were some other proposals of Roosevelt (among them the requirement to grant him the power to restructure the government apparatus without requesting any special permission from the congress).
By decision of the Congress, a special labor office was established to monitor compliance with labor laws. This Bureau - one of those semi-administrative, semi-judicial, semi-legislative institutions that began to be established by the congress from the end of the 19th century, - made several decisions that were unfavorable for trusts, especially brazenly violating Wagner's law, firing workers for belonging to trade unions that used lockouts, espionage enterprises, terrorist acts against workers, etc., etc.
At the congress elections in 1938, the political divide was not between Republicans and Democrats, as it has always been in the last hundred years, but between supporters of the reaction and supporters of progress in each of these two parties. The reaction mobilized all the forces and strengthened its positions in the congress. Republicans almost doubled their mandates in the House of Representatives and won 8 seats in the Senate. In the House of Representatives, there were 170 Republicans against 262 Democrats; in the Senate - 23 against 69. But the matter was not in this nominal allocation of seats, but in the fact that the Republicans and Democrats mixed up - they were in the camp of reaction, and in the camp of progress. Party organizers of the Democrats in many cases sent their voters against democratic candidates, urging them to give their votes to the Republicans. The leaders of the Republicans preferred in other cases to support a Democrat reactionary than a Republican progressist.
The foreign policy of Roosevelt.
Having firmly become a leader and leader of American bourgeois democracy, Roosevelt led a consistently progressive foreign policy. His entry into the presidential office in 1933, he marked an important act of foreign policy: the United States finally recognized the de jure USSR, and in November 1934, diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union were restored, interrupted, as is known, in connection with the intervention The United States in the Far East, the Soviet North (Arkhangelsk) and Siberia in 1918.
With the outbreak of World War II, that is, since 1939, Roosevelt is increasingly resolute on the side of the anti-fascist bloc, and although
On September 3, 1939, the United States formally declared its neutrality, but to observe this neutrality did not allow Roosevelt his line to defend progress and democracy against fascism. In the same year, Congress authorized the sale of weapons to the belligerents, which, as the immediate future showed, was much more in the interests of Britain than Germany, Japan, Italy.
In the autumn of 1940, the United States began to prepare for war on the side of Great Britain. Roosevelt carried out a colossal arms production program, legislated universal military service (before the United States joined the war), expanded the supply of British bombers, and thus took a very effective part in the "Battle of England" on the side of England.
The third presidency of Roosevelt and the entry of the United States into the war. In this situation, a completely exceptional event occurred in the political history of the United States: in 1940, President Roosevelt's candidacy was put out for the third time, which, as everyone knows, has not existed since the emergence of the United States as a state. And Roosevelt was elected. This meant an unprecedented strengthening of his position, a recognition by the people of the United States that as a sacrifice to Roosevelt as the leader, the most sacred " historical traditions of the United States.
The Roosevelt Line has become stronger and has become even clearer since the treacherous attack of fascist Germany on the USSR. During 1941, Roosevelt, by a number of acts and appeals, expressed his readiness to help the USSR and took appropriate measures.
In December 1941, the treacherous attack of Japan against the Hawaiian Islands, without declaration of war, caused the United States to join the war against Germany, Italy, and Japan.
To win the war - a great war of democracy, civilization and progress against the inhumanity and barbarity of fascism - Roosevelt designed and implemented, with the support of all the advanced layers of the United States, a gigantic military, production and political program. And when, even before the end of the war, but already with the determined superiority of the Allies, the next presidential election of 1944 took place, Roosevelt was elected President for the fourth time. The congress elections this year gave Democrats in the House of Representatives 243 mandates, Republicans - 190; in the Senate, respectively, 57 and 38.
Truman eliminates Roosevelt's legacy. April 12, 1945, death terminated the fruitful activity of the greatest of American presidents. Vice President Truman joined the office of President. From the first steps he retreated from the Roosevelt covenants, although in words he declared his solidarity with him at any rate.
Truman quickly removed from the government all the old employees and assistants to Roosevelt (for example, the Minister of Commerce, the consecutive Democrat, Wallace), replacing them with inveterate reactionaries. He resolutely went to meet the American monopolies that had become unusually stronger after the war, demanding an attack on the working masses and imperialist foreign policy. Under their pressure, he abolished one after another almost all the laws that established control over the industry, over prices, over wages. The attack on the working class took on the harshest forms: to combat the growing strike struggle, the congress adopted the anti-worker "The Cause Law," which considerably curtailed the right to strike and abolished many other trade union rights recognized since Roosevelt's time. Even the Green reactionary, chairman of the American Federation of Labor (AFL), spoke of the "Law of Caye" as about "vindictive hysterical legislation of the worst type". Then Truman undertook a rather awkward maneuver: he vetoed the Keizah bill, but proposed a bill that established compulsory arbitration. This bill passed in Congress with some softening (the paragraph proposed by Truman on the mobilization of strikers from enterprises subject to government control was excluded).Political results of the policy of Truman affected quickly: at the congressional elections in November 1946, the Republicans took a decisive victory over the Democrats, having received 246 seats out of 435 in the House of Representatives, and 51 out of 96 in the Senate. Now Truman, not having a party majority in Congress, must either swim in the wake of the Republicans, which means to destroy the democratic party, or doom yourself to inaction. In the current situation, Truman turned to the Republican Congress on January 8, 1947, with a message that belatedly takes the Roosevelt tone of protecting the people's interests over capital, noting that in the second half of 1946 the purchasing power of the people declined, real wages fell, profits the same "corporations", income from investments and from rent rose sharply.
What is the matter for all this to the republican congress, moreover, in which the tone is asked by undoubted reactionaries?
In the summer of 1947, the congress adopted the anti-labor bill of Taft-Hartley, making it almost impossible for any strike struggle of workers. The bill went against the veto of Truman, who did not take any measures to make his veto effective.
Truman's foreign policy.
In foreign policy, Truman is a faithful squire of reaction. In 1947, he passed through Congress a law on "aid" Greece and Turkey, which gives him the opportunity to openly arm and in every possible way support the fascist reaction in these countries. In his official and informal speeches, he does not stint on all kinds of accusations against the states of a new democracy.
As we already know, in connection with the growth of the labor movement, the American Socialist Party made in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. some success. However, by the beginning of the First World War, the destructive role of the opportunist leaders of this party, closely associated with the leaders of the apex trade union organization of the AFL, Gompers, who came from an English immigrant family, who headed the AFT shortly after its appearance in the eighties of the XIX century. and who remained at the head of it until his death (in 1924), did everything to instil in the American workers' movement the worst features of English trade unionism. His successor, Green firmly continues this line.
The American Socialist Party arose at the very end of the 19th century. Her influence among the workers, at first considerable, then fell: her presidential candidate in the elections in 1912 received about 900 thousand votes, in 1916 about 500 thousand, in 1920 about 900 thousand, in 1928 about 140 thousand, in 1932 about 900 thousand, in 1936 only 200 thousand votes. The number of its organized members also seldom exceeded 10,000 after the First World War. It is farther away, in the person of its leaders, moving away from the socialist platform, ever closer to the reactionary leadership of the AFL, more and more resolutely opposed to a united front with the Communist Party of the United States. Green, the leader of the AFL, and Thomas, leader of the Socialist Party, go hand in hand in their hatred of the Communists, in services to Republicans and right-wing Democrats. At the very beginning of the 1940s, Greene addressed a letter to all AFT trade unions with a proposal to exclude from the trade unions from further accepting members of the Communist Party or at least sympathizing with it.
The fighting organizations of the reaction.
Along with the old reactionary organizations, like the Ku Klux Klan and others, after the First World War new ones appeared to actively fight the intensified revolutionary movement: "America first of all," fascist and semi-fascist organizations like "silver shirts", black legionaries & quot ;, vigilants or awake & quot ;, guardians and so on. They serve as assistants to the reactionary leaders of American socialism in their struggle against revolutionary workers.
The Communist Party.
The only militant vanguard of the American proletariat is the Communist Party of America. It arose in September 1919. Its basis was the left side of the socialist party. Until the winter of 1921, parallel left-wing workers' political organizations, which, however, brutally terrorized the government were driven underground. Only in 1923 was created a united workers' party, called since 1928 the Communist Party of America. Since 1924 the newspaper of the Communist Party "Daily Worker", which enjoys the well-deserved fame of a fighter for the interests of workers, is coming out. In strike fights, the American Communist Party plays the role of a tested friend, leader and defender of the masses. The activity of the party was greatly impeded by inner-Party struggle. Right-wing elements in the Communist Party reiterated the "exclusiveness of American capitalism", about the eternity of "prosperity." They closely intertwined in the working-class movement of America with the Trotskyites - the enemies of socialism and the working class, servants of reaction. But for the American workers the anti-worker and counter-revolutionary essence of the theory of "American exclusiveness" soon became clear.
The factional struggle in the American Communist Party put an end to the expulsion from the party of the Rights. Further years were a time of great party growth. If in 1932 the party numbered no more than 18,000 members, then by 1940 this number had increased to 90,000. During the Second World War, the Communist Party acted as the vanguard of America's most progressive progressive social forces, leading the struggle against all pro-fascist groups and trends . It was necessary. But on the road to cooperation with bourgeois and petty-bourgeois democrats and progressives, the leader of the Browder Party began to lean towards the policy of liquidating an independent communist party. Under his influence, in 1944 it was announced the abolition of the Communist Party and the creation of a "communist political association" instead of it. as a "non-partisan organization" with the "support of the working class". All this was highly uncertain, vague and deeply mistaken. But the masses of advanced American workers restored their lot and corrected the mistakes of the leadership. At the congress of the Communist Party (1945), a decision was made to restore the Communist Party and to adopt a new charter instead of the Tenth Congress adopted in 1938, where the Communist Party was exhibited as a simple continuer of the traditions of Payne, Jefferson and Lincoln, ie, an appendage of bourgeois democracy.
The new charter characterizes the party as a party of the working class, as a party that is Marxist, defending the interests of the working people against the exploiters and reactionaries. The new leadership of the party is headed by Foster (chairman of the party) and Dennis (general secretary).
In 1947, a wide campaign against the Communist Party was opened. The notorious commission of the House of Representatives "to investigate anti-American activities" He brought Dennis to trial for his just and courageous refusal to give her testimony. The court sentenced Dennis to the maximum penalty - a year's imprisonment and a fine of one thousand dollars.
New moments in the trade-union movement.
To a large extent, under the influence of the Communist Party and the workers it organizes, the movement for the reorganization of trade unions in the 1930s is emerging on a new, production basis. Thus, in 1938, the second trade union center, the Committee, and then the Congress of Production Unions, was created. The trade unions belonging to the AFL are for the most part still shop trade unions, to which access is also restricted to unqualified, untrained workers. The trade unions of the checkpoint are all built on a production basis, uniting workers of the same production, by enterprises, regardless of their profession and qualifications. The movement of the production unions grew with extraordinary force. In 1939, the number of workers united in the production unions exceeded the number of AFL workers and reached 4 million.
During the Second World War, the huge production program launched by Roosevelt affected the extraordinary surge of workers into trade union organizations - the AFL and the checkpoint. By the end of 1944, the AFL had about 7 million members, but this did not change the opportunist, anti-workers, counter-revolutionary tactics of the top leadership. By that time, the number of members of the CPR was about 6 million, and it continued to grow.
The Communist Party of America has repeatedly made proposals to put an end to the split of the trade union movement in the United States, but each time these proposals ran into absolutely unacceptable conditions that the leaders of the AFL put. The AFL does not want unity. When, at the end of the Second World War, the trade unions of 50 states established the World Federation of Trade Unions, which unites the 70 millionth mass of organized workers in the world, the AFL, unlike the checkpoint, refused to take part in this union.
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