The picture of conditions in Germany and Italy as presented by those who have experienced its terrors, is sufficiently challenging to arouse progressive, thinking Americans, whether organized or unorganized, whether they work with hand or brain. Here we have a picture of the catastrophe which would overtake the American people, if a system like Mussolini’s fascist corporative state, or Hitler’s coordinated dictatorship, were ever permitted a footing in this country. Here we have precise information concerning the fall in living standards, the actual starvation, bad housing, low wages, heavy taxes, burdensome armaments, imperialist ventures in colonial aggression threatening new foreign wars, the total suppression of civil liberties and persecution of racial minorities which result when fascis is permitted to ride the saddle. Fascism solves no economic crisis. It does mislead well-intentioned people into believing that it can do so, when all it actually does is to increase the burden on the shoulders of the working population for the benefit of financiers and industrialists. Under the colossal swindle of fascism, the workers’ trade unions stand to lose their organizations, built up through decades of struggle, almost over night. The violent suppression of all workers’ organizations is a foundation stone of fascism.
In this period, American labor is on the march. We have seen this in the splendid spirit of resistance manifested during the sit-down strikes, first in the fortress of anti-unionism (General Motors in Detroit), then spreading in rapid succession from one industry to another across the country. It is important to point out that even under fascist terror, labor is making itself felt. In Italy, for example, reference has been made to a recent wage increase. Some anti-fascists see in this a maneuver on the part of fascist leaders, in order to knife the workers’ movement in the back. The fascists, of course, would have us believe that this increase is due to the benevolence of Mussolini. Actually, however, the wage increase is due to the workers’ agitation within the ranks of the fascist unions. A joint statement, issued by the (illegal) Socialist and Communist Parties of Italy immediately thereafter, claimed this as a significant result of union pressure. Gherardo Casini, a fascist functionary, has stated in Lavoro Fascista that the problem is no longer one of “bringing wages up to the level of the cost of living,” but of “examining the very trade union structure and activities.”
Even in the terrorized fascist organizations, therefore, the workers are becoming more outspoken than ever before. They are raising issues of wages, living conditions and trade union life, thus using the fascist corporations themselves to break through fascist suppression and legality, and in fact even forcing some of the fascist leaders to take up their grievances and debate them in the press. In this way, the workers in fascist countries are beginning to use the corporations as unions, since none other is available to them now. This is important, for it indicates the possibility of a general revival of the labor movement in these countries, while at the same time constituting a serious threat to the whole fabric of fascist legality—a matter of prime importance.
In Germany there are even more signs of ferment and change. Here as elsewhere the aim of the Nazi party was to crush the workers under the lowest living standards ever known in Germany. To do this, Hitler found it necessary to try to stamp out any signs of labor struggles for better conditions. But the situation in Germany shows that Hitler’s plans have not been entirely realized. In the fascist Labor Front, there is a broad opposition movement formed by the workers despite the terror—a struggle to bring back the old independent fighting force of labor.
Labor must and will defend itself against destruction. The Hitler regime has reduced Germany to beggary. Inside the country, however, there is the beginning of a People’s Front of working people, the middle classes, and peasants, to fight against the brutality of the fascist dictatorship. In the last few weeks there have been cases of passive resistance and even of open strikes in many industries. In the peasant districts, there are dissatisfaction and ferment expressed in refusal to pay taxes or yield products to the government. Very recently we have read of open resistance to the sending of workers’ sons to fight for fascism in Spain. Especially in the domain of religion, there is continued opposition which forces Hitler to capitulate and grant free elections for church self-government. All these factors taken together indicate that the forces of the People’s Front are growing and maturing towards a free and democratic Germany.
We in the United States can learn, and must learn, from these examples. It is not necessary for us to pass over the bloody road of fascism. An open fascist party has not yet crystallized in the United States. We have the power in our hands to resist, indeed to crush the fascist elements now apparent on the American scene. For those who still doubt that such forces exist, there is the adventurer Gerald L. K. Smith, successor to the mantle of Huey Long’s Louisiana dictatorship. The press of March 2 announced that Smith had just started a venture to form “A Committee of One Million,” with himself in the capacity of “Fuehrer,” because “his friends wanted him to form it.” On January 27, Chairman Dickstein of the Immigration Committee told the House that “German spies and Consuls and representatives in this country” were training 200,000 men in German uniforms chiefly in Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York and Michigan. Black Legionism in Detroit shocked the American public. It has by no means been wiped out. Its sinister possibilities, whether in the shape of a Gerald L. K. Smith, the Ku Klux Klan, the Vigilantes, the anti-Semitic activities of Henry Ford, or the paid agents of Hitler in America, are menacing forces, ready allies of the Liberty Leaguers who proved themselves such conspicuous enemies of democracy in the last elections. It will be recalled that these forces were held in leash by an aroused people, who preferred to take no chances with fascism here. The people are again on the move to reform the Supreme Court against the unrestricted power to thwart progressive legislation.
France has demonstrated through its Popular Front how to deal with the fascist menace. The Spanish People’s Front has shown the world how magnificent and invincible is the fighting spirit of the people in defense of democracy, against the forces of international fascism and its mercenary armies!
The need of the hour in America is to build this bulwark in opposition to fascism, through the instrument of the Farmer-Labor Party, uniting all those who are opposed to fascism, cementing all those who are for democracy and peace. For the People’s Front against fascism and war which it breeds, no single group is more important than the trade unions. Their strength will be second to none in the People’s Front in this country, organized to fight reaction and safeguard democracy. The wave of sit~down strikes under the leadership of the Committee for Industrial Organization (C.I.O.) is an indication of the fighting capacity of the American labor movement, and of its determination to organize effective, powerful instruments to win some measure of economic security now. With one-third of this great nation still “ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed,” it is imperative that forward looking people join hands with labor now in organizing the Farmer-Labor Party to combat all fascist influences threatening our hard-won democratic rights.
To help vanquish fascism, we dedicate this pamphlet, in the belief that those who read will act to forge the People’s Front against fascism and war.