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T. Stamm

Pinchot and Labor

New Bourgeois Methods in Pennsylvania Strikes

(August 1933)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 39, 12 August 1933, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Both from the point of view of the number of strikes and strikers, on the one hand, and the militancy of the workers on the other, Pennsylvania occupies the center of the stage. Within this area are taking place the strike of the Reading Hosiery workers and the struggle of the central western miners. In the eastern section of the state small strikes are occurring in the textile and manufacturing industries against sweat shop conditions. The strike of the miners marks the high water mark thus far of the developing working class offensive.

The capitalist class is moving in this area too. From Philadelphia to Fayette County there is the familiar story of police brutality and the viciousness of hired deputies. The armed forces of the state have also been brought into play. Demagogy in the high places of the .state bureaucracy and in the ranks of organized labor has been trained on the workers to dull the edge of their militancy. Betrayal too plays its part. These are the time honored methods of “dealing with labor troubles”.

But now for the first time a new element has made its appearance. The political flunkies of Mellon and Morgan have acquired a new weapon. They are beginning to use liberal policies which they accompany with deeds. Mrs. Pinchot, the first lady of the state, appears on picket lines and marches with the strikers; she bawls out the head of the Philadelphia police force for his brutality in dispersing strikers. Pinchot himself, after Roosevelt, appoints a lady to the position of state secretary of labor. She carries out a policy “in the interests of the workers” which brings down on her head the charge of being a “strike fomentor”. Pinchot sends troops to the mine strike area to “protect the strikers against the deputies”.

“He blamed the strike on efforts to deprive the miners of the rights guaranteed in the National Recovery Act. The time has gone by when striking miners can be clubbed into submission by deputy sheriffs with the assistance of the national guard and the state police – and it will not come back while. I am governor.’” (N.Y. Times, August 6, 1933.) Bravo! Bravo!

There are some unkind people who say that all this is not meant sincerely, that Pinchot is keeping up appearances and furthering personal political ambitions. They say that Mrs. Pinchot has her eye fixed on a senatorial seat. They say that the appointment of Miss Carr to the position of state secretary of labor was a blow directed at boss Grundy with whose machine Pinchot had broken in pursuit of a “liberal” reputation.

All this may be true.

We are not in the confidence of the Pinchots and we cannot say. At any rate we are ready to believe that the servants of the capitalist class do not serve their masters out of altruistic motives.

The Daily Worker takes a somewhat different view from that of Pinchot’s critics. The Daily holds to the idea that the Pinchot variety of demagogy is the familiar brand the capitalists have been doling out for decades. It notices neither quantitative nor qualitative differences. It applies a correct ABSTRACT formula to all situations and gets the same results.

What is actually taking place in Pennsylvania is what Roosevelt is doing on a national scale – the Europeanization of American politics – from the capitalist side. The capitalists not only talk of labor’s rights and needs. They make a sentence of doing something about it. And under cover of these “concessions” they plot and carry through further attacks in the workers.

The whole of the Pinchot policy fits into the Roosevelt labor policy as a finger fits into a glove. Roosevelt calls for class peace while he carries out measures “in the interest of the workers” – the NIRA – Pinchot does essentially the same. Only through his wife he goes a step further; he “intervenes” on the side of the strikers”! Pinchot’s methods are an extension of Roosevelt’s. Why do they do this? They do it, because they foresee a rise of working class struggles. They understand that the workers will make attempts to recover some of the ground they lost during the years of the capitalist onslaught. This they seek to prevent as far as possible and where it is not possible they want to confine the results to a minimum.

At the same time the capitalists are trying to put their house in order to launch their assault on the world market. They need a further concentration and centralization of industry and its administration and a reorganization of labor to the reorganized industrial apparatus at the expense of the working class. To carry through this program they have devised the measures embraced by the New Deal, among them the NIRA: And to carry them through they need class peace in a period of rising working class struggles. That is why they try to carry measures through under cover of liberalism. The key to the strategy is summed up in the formula: the Europeanization of capitalist politics to prevent the political development of the working class.

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Last updated: 25 October 2015