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population and more than supporting it urging the Presi-
dent and his administration to push through and extend
this program. Hence the question of the advisability of
independent labor political action on a national scale



such as the organization of a Farmer-Labor party is no
doubt closely bound up with the question of the extent to
which the Democratic party under Mr. Roosevelt carries
through a progressive program. At the same time American
Labor would be lacking in realism if it did not see that a
progressive program along Mr. Roosevelt's lines can only
succeed in the end indeed can only be prevented from being
wrecked by the counter-attack of reaction if it is carried
forward beyond itself, as it were. Mr. Roosevelt's effort to
distribute purchasing power will, inevitably, be defeated and
discredited in the end if its authors flinch from doing things
such as the carrying through of a great rehousing scheme
which will unavoidably impinge on entrenched property

In a word, a labor movement cannot do its job and so save
the world unless it sees clearly whither it is going. This does
not mean that it should try to get there all in one jump or
should reject the chance to go half way, or a quarter way, at
a time. But it does mean that it will lose all sense of direction
that it will not even know whether it is advancing or retreat-
ing unless it achieves a consciousness of its goal. And a lack
of such a consciousness has always been the weak spot of both
the British and the American labor movements.

rpr The American and the British workers have

We Have _ _ _ _ _

T k d always had a genius for organization. They

v * have built some of the largest trade unions,

Knowledge. , , . -, ,.

co-operative societies and working-class polit-
ical parties which the world has ever seen. But both the
American and British labor movements have always had one



very grave weakness a weakness so grave that success cannot
come until it is removed. They have never been more than
semi-conscious of what they were trying to do. They have
never seen more than a very little way in front of them. They
have worked simply for better wages, shorter hours, more
social services and the like without pausing to think out at all
clearly what the consequence of getting these things must be.

True, the British movement has become socialist. It has
seen, in general terms, that these concessions cannot be won
without, in the end, transforming society from a capitalist to
a socialist basis. But the British labor movement, as a whole,
has never yet faced up to what is really involved in getting
rid of capitalism and building up socialism. This is because
it has lacked a clear enough understanding of the nature of
capitalism. It has not understood what it was up against.

And, primarily for that reason, it failed to make use of the
opportunities which it has had on several occasions in the last
twenty years. So that today only a thorough, and very difficult,
transformation of the very nature of the movement can save
it from going the way of the labor movements of Central
Europe. And if that happens then there will be little hope for
us in Britain. We shall go down into the nightmare of fascism
and war.

American Labor has the unique opportunity to avoid all
that by learning from our mistakes. American Labor has an
immense opportunity to rally to it the whole American people,
with the exception of the tiny possessing class. For the people



of America are a people who labor by hand or by brain. In
this lies their hope; in this lies their fair opportunity to build
themselves a world fit to live in.


Chapter XV

There Is Hope in America

THERE is hope in America because her people are young,
strong and daring. There is hope in America because her
Union was founded in the name of the life and liberty of her
people. There is hope in America because the American
people long ago swept away all the clutter of monarchy and
tides and medieval privilege which still clings round our feet
in Britain. There is hope in America because her people are
coming to their hour of decision after the peoples of Europe,
and can learn from their experience. How can the people of
America fail in the end to hammer out for themselves a way
by which they can get their livings in peace and security?

I know America well enough I have been in the United
States five times now, and have travelled over it from New
York to Los Angeles and from Alabama to Maine not to
forget the other side of the story. I know a little of the special
problems and difficulties that face every American who is
working for social construction. Assuredly the struggle to go
forward cannot be easy for the American people. Every step
will be gained by effort and sacrifice alone. The forces of
reaction are stronger in America, perhaps, than anywhere else



in the world. But then the forces of progress are incompar-
ably stronger too. The struggle is here upon a gigantic scale.
It will not be won by the people unless they join the most
serious effort at economic and political self -education with
their practical achievements in the political and economic

But they will do it. America will never take the dark path.
She will never give the imperialist answer to her basic prob-
lem. She will never turn to fascism and war.

And so one more European finds hope in America. Ever
since the foundation of the Union, the poorest, the most
oppressed, the most despairing of the peoples of Europe have
thought of America as the country of hope. And year by year
tens of thousands of them have put their hope to the test and
have set sail across the Atlantic. Some have found what they
were looking for; some have been disappointed; some have
prospered; some have fared no better than they had done in
the lands from which they came. But now they form the
greatest nation in the world. Now they are heirs to the richest,
the most fertile, and the widest domain that heart could
desire. They have only to found their relations one to another
upon knowledge and justice, so that all may have a sufficient
share of the vast wealth which they know so well how to
produce. Surely they cannot fail!

And so I, one more European, look to America for hope.
Those millions of Europeans who have peopled her asked
only for the opportunity to work and live. Now we in Europe



ask of the people of America something more. We ask them
to show the world how a people may learn to live in freedom,
peace and plenty.



This book has been produced
wholly under union conditions. The paper was
made, the type set, the plates electrotyped, and
the printing and binding done in union shops affili-
ated with the American Federation of Labor. All
employees of Modern Age Books, Inc., are members
of the Book and Mogoz/ne Guild, Local No. 18
of the United Office and Professional Workers
of America, affiliated with the Committee
for Industrial Organization.

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Online LibraryJohn StracheyHope in America → online text (page 12 of 12)