From the 2006 album, The Lost Take, by Michael Dosh.
By James P. Cannon
Written: March through April, 1954, The Militant, New York
I haven’t been able to disentangle myself from other preoccupations to send you any connected thoughts on McCarthyism and the probable character and perspectives of American fascism in general. The articles of Breitman are very effective arguments against people who will not recognize incipient American fascism until it obliges them by assuming the “classic” European form. What will they do if American fascism neglects or refuses to accommodate them in this respect, right up to the eve of the show down—which it may well do?
I will have something to say about the question of American fascism a little later when I get free from some other commitments. Meantime, I am in basic agreement with the campaign you are conducting and the arguments for it, especially those given in Breitman’s articles. I believe these articles would make a good follow-up pamphlet to the first one.
Those who would judge specific American forms of fascism too formalistically by the European pattern, arbitrarily limit capitalist aggression against the workers’ movement in two forms:
They see the democratic form by which the workers are suppressed through strictly legal measures in accordance with the law and the Constitution—such as the Taft-Hartley Law, formal indictments and prosecutions for specific violations of existing statutes, etc. All this, despite its obvious “inconvenience” to the workers’ movement, is characterised as democratic.
On the other side they see the illegal, unofficial forms of violence practiced by “stormtroopers” and similar shirted hooligans outside the forms of law, as in Italy and Germany. This is characterised as fascist.
But what about violence which is technically illegal and unconstitutional, but carried out nevertheless by duly constituted officials clothed with legal authority? What about such things as the breaking up of meetings and picket lines by official police and special deputies; wire tapping; inquisitions; screening and blacklisting of “subversives”; and all the rest of the intimidation and terror of the witch-hunt? These procedures don’t fit very well into the “democratic” formula, although their chief instruments are legally-constituted officials, supported and incited by press campaigns, radio demagogues etc.
This kind of illegal violence under the outward forms of law has a distinctive American flavour; and it is especially favoured by a section of the ruling class which has very little respect for its own laws, and cares more for practical action than for theories as to how it is to be carried out. This is, in fact, an important element of the specific form which American fascism will take, as has already been indicated quite convincingly.
The depredations of Mayor Hague, who announced that “I am the law”, were a manifestation of this tendency back in the late thirties. Trotsky, by the way, considered Hague an American fascist. He described his unconstitutional assaults on free speech and free assembly, through the medium of official police , as a manifestation of incipient American fascism. I think he was right about that. If the workers stand around and wait until the labour movement is attacked directly by unofficial shirted hooligans, before they recognise the approach of American fascism, they may find their organisations broken up “legally” while they are waiting.
The truth of the matter is that American fascism, in its own specific form , has already a considerable army of storm troopers at its disposal in the persons of lawless prosecuting attorneys and official policemen who don’t give a damn what the Constitution says. Incipient American fascism—already, right now—has a press and radio-television power which makes Hitler’s Angriff look like a throwaway sheet. It has political demagogues, like McCarthy, who are different from Hitler mainly in the fact that they are clothed with official legal powers and immunity, while Hitler had to build up an independent, unofficial and at times persecuted movement without any direct support from the established press, etc.
“McCarthy is different”, say the formalistic wiseacres, as if that were a help and a consolation. He is indeed different in several ways. But the most important difference is that he starts with a great power behind him, and operates with formal legal sanction and immunity. The right comparison to make is not of the McCarthy of today with Hitler on the verge of taking power in 1932, but rather with Hitler in the middle twenties. The main difference we find in this comparison is that McCarthy is way ahead of Hitler.
Another point: the German-American Bund of the thirties was not a characteristic manifestation of American fascism, but rather a foreign agency of Hitler’s German movement. Neither is it correct to look now for the appearance of genuine American fascism in lunatic fringe outfits such as the Silver Shirts, Gerald Smith, etc. A powerful section of the American bourgeoisie, with unlimited means at their disposal are already fascist-minded ; and they have a big foot in the government, national and local. They feel no need at present of unofficial movements.
To the extent that such outfits will appear here or there, with the development of the social crisis, they will probably be subsumed in a broader, more powerful, adequately financed and press-supported general movement, which operates under more or less legal forms. It is far more correct, far more realistic, to see the incipient stage of American fascism in the conglomeration of “official” marauders represented by McCarthy than outside it.
Source: The Fight Against Fascism In The USA © Resistance Books 2001. Resistance Books 2004 ISBN 1876646179; Published by Resistance Books 23 Abercrombie St, Chippendale NSW 2008, Permission for on-line publication provided by Resistance Books for use by the James P. Cannon Internet Archive in 2004.
I’ve worked my fingers to the bone
not a pretty little penny have I got to show
I ain’t looking for much
just a little bit of rest by the side of the road
I lift my voice to the forces above
the Lords of labor and the Goddess of love
ain’t I been a good, hard working
faithful servant and son
Young adults who have recently entered the labor force have a difficult time getting accurate information about labor unions and their activities. We must stand together and stand strong.
- Unions raise wages of unionized workers by roughly 20% and raise compensation, including both wages and benefits, by about 28%.
- Unions reduce wage inequality because they raise wages more for low- and middle-wage workers than for higher-wage workers, more for blue-collar than for white-collar workers, and more for workers who do not have a college degree.
- Strong unions set a pay standard that nonunion employers follow. For example, a high school graduate whose workplace is not unionized but whose industry is 25% unionized is paid 5% more than similar workers in less unionized industries.
- The impact of unions on total nonunion wages is almost as large as the impact on total union wages.
- The most sweeping advantage for unionized workers is in fringe benefits. Unionized workers are more likely than their nonunionized counterparts to receive paid leave, are approximately 18% to 28% more likely to have employer-provided health insurance, and are 23% to 54% more likely to be in employer-provided pension plans.
- Unionized workers receive more generous health benefits than nonunionized workers. They also pay 18% lower health care deductibles and a smaller share of the costs for family coverage. In retirement, unionized workers are 24% more likely to be covered by health insurance paid for by their employer.
- Unionized workers receive better pension plans. Not only are they more likely to have a guaranteed benefit in retirement, their employers contribute 28% more toward pensions.
- Unionized workers receive 26% more vacation time and 14% more total paid leave (vacations and holidays).
Unions play a pivotal role both in securing legislated labor protections and rights such as safety and health, overtime, and family/medical leave and in enforcing those rights on the job. Because unionized workers are more informed, they are more likely to benefit from social insurance programs such as unemployment insurance and workers compensation. Unions are thus an intermediary institution that provides a necessary complement to legislated benefits and protections.
More than a year since they voted to form a union, Panera workers in Michigan are still waiting. The bakers have the misfortune of having their case before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which is currently in limbo as it awaits Senate confirmation of nominees to the five person board.
Read more about their fight at the link below, and be sure to RSVP to this Solidarity Rally set for NEXT FRIDAY, June 21st if you plan to be in the Kalamazoo area!