Gordon Haskell Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Gordon Haskell

Corrects Omission in Wallace Quote

(31 May 1948)

From Labor Action, Vol. 12 No. 22, 31 May 1948, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).


I believe it is the duty of Labor Action to correct a flagrant distortion of the position of Henry Wallace on the settlement of strikes which appears in Hal Draper’s article entitled Henry Wallace’s Record on Labor and Jim Crow Much Unlike His Promises in the issue of May 10.

Comrade Draper quotes an article by Wallace in the New Republic of December 30, 1946 in part as follows:

“If a strike takes place in ... industries which are essential to the continued life of the nation, the industry should be taken over and operated by the government until a settlement can be reached ...”

Commenting on this part of Wallace’s proposals of 1946 Comrade Draper writes:

“What’s wrong with a little injunction to halt strikes for 80 days when it’s all right for the government to ‘take over’ the industry under circumstances where the union is deprived of any power?”

The distortion of Wallace’s position resides in the omission of the rest of Wallace’s proposal where the dots appear in the quotation. Here is the rest of the paragraph which is “symbolized” by the dots in Draper’s quotation:

“During this period of operation there should be no profits to the owners, in order to avoid the situation we have seen in the past where the government has simply acted as a stooge for the employers, who have hidden behind the pressure created by public indignation against the strikers and let the government drive a harder bargain with the workers than is fair or just. When the government acts, let it act truly as the representative of all the people.”

It seems to me too obvious to need emphasis that these sentences, omitted from the article, place Wallace’s proposal in an altogether different light from the impression given the readers of Labor Action. Should the government “seizure” of the railroads mean that all profits during government “operation” go into the national treasury pending settlement between the unions and the companies, there is not doubt that the capitalists and their newspapers would be howling bloody murder against government seizure rather than sitting back and laughing at the workers up their sleeves.

Comrade Draper and the Editor of Labor Action may well be convinced that this part of Wallace’s proposal is not sincere, or that if he were President he would not do what he advocates as a private citizen. However, this in no way justifies simply deleting this part of his proposal, it only necessitates analyzing it and exposing the impossibility of such action on the part of a capitalist government which is there to serve the bosses’ interests.

On the face of it, this deletion of a vital and pertinent part of Wallace’s proposal for handling strikes in an article mainly devoted to that question smacks of the worst practices of the capitalist and Stalinist press so roundly and justly condemned by Labor Action. It cannot but cast doubt in the minds of our readers on the reliability of the paper as a source of information. Even more seriously, it puts in question the political integrity of the paper and the Workers Party whose views it expresses.


Gordon Haskell

Draper’s Response

Gordon Haskell Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers’ Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 3 March 2018