Socialist Workers Party Platform—1948
Our vast natural resources and productive plant, the unexampled skill and
energy of our workers, farmers and technicians, are the essential
elements for abolishing poverty and creating a rational and harmonious
At the same time, never have the American people viewed the future with
so much un-certainty and fear. For our generation, war and depression
are the outstanding memories of the past and the imminent perspectives
of the future.
The price of a loaf of bread or a pound of meat, the right to speak freely
without persecution, questions of war and peace, every aspect of life
presents the mass of our people with perpetual insecurity and unending
What are the reasons our rulers give for this ruinous condition? Since
1914 Democrats and Republicans alike have been reduced to diverting
the people's wrath to a foreign enemy, the Kaiser and German militarism,
Hitler and German fascism, and now Stalin and the "Iron Curtain."
This explanation is repeated by politicians and the government, by the
press, the pulpit and the radio, taught in schools and universities,
ham¬mered into the heads of the population by every technical resource
at the command of our capitalist masters. It can no longer deceive the
Gone are the days when individuals could carve out wealth for
themselves and at the same time develop the country's economy. Today
huge monopolies choke our splendid industrial resources.
But capitalism has not only created these monstrous monopolies. It has
also brought into being the working class comprising tens of millions of
people, with a high standard of education, great technical skills and long
traditions of democracy and social equality.
Shaken by the collapse of 1929, this working class has already shown its
tremendous capabilities by its organization of the CIO and the rapid
growth of industrial unionism.
The workers are becoming increasingly aware of capitalist inefficiency in
the use of resources. They are beginning to see through the
warmongering of the imperialists. They resent the capitalist cheating of
the people by inflation. They know that the Sixty Richest Families of the
United States, like their counterparts abroad, will abandon democracy for
fascism at any serious threat to their profits, privileges and power.
The irrepressible conflict between the monopolists and the workers
shakes America with ever-growing convulsions and inexorably extends
into a battle for rulership of the country.
The middle classes, the great mass of agricultural workers and small
farmers, are ravaged by the anarchy of the profit system.
Millions of women bear the burden of a double oppression. Exploited and
abused like all workers, they are also discriminated against and often
denied jobs in industry, as well as having upon them the burden of the
The generations of the youth face the prospect of serving in permanent
conscript armies and providing the fodder for a new war. Capitalist
corruption bears down with increasing force upon the high ideals of the
professions of medicine, journal¬ism, education and upon the workers in
the arts, sciences and engineering.
Far from seeing any end to segregation, the Negro people have seen the
Federal Government of Roosevelt and Henry Wallace carry the infamy of
a Jim Crow Army to every quarter of the globe.
Tormented by these conditions, the oppressed classes and groups are
looking for a way out. There is no way out for them except to follow the
leadership of organized labor. On the day when the working class can
assure them of its determination to end capitalist anarchy and chaos, the
rule of the capitalists is doomed.
The capitalists know this. That is why they concentrate all their power
and energy to crush the growing challenge of the working class. The Taft-
Hartley Act, the Mundt Bill, the Committee on un-American Activities, the
preparation for transforming the FBI into a Gestapo, militarization of the
country, the strangling of liberties traditional in the United States since
the beginning of the Republic—this long train of abuses and usurpations
reveals that their aim is to subject the working class to an absolute
despotism, the sole guarantee of capitalist rule in its period of decay.
Twice our people have faced a similar threat. Twice they have known
how to meet it.
In 1776 the farmers, mechanics and artisans, led by revolutionists such
as Sam Adams, Jefferson and Washington, destroyed the power of the
British ruling class who sought to crush the birth of a new nation.
In 1860 William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips, John Brown and
Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln and Thaddeus Stevens,
personified the forces which waged merciless war against the
slaveowners' attempt to perpetuate their outmoded system, halt the
expansion of our economy and destroy the liberties of our people.
The Socialist Workers Party, in these years of decision, comes forward
as the continuator of these revolutionary traditions. The socialist
revolution is even more imperative for the salvation of the U.S. than was
the Civil War and the War for Independence.
The Socialist Workers Party warns the people that the present struggle is
so deeply rooted in a bankrupt economic system that it must end either in
the complete destruction of civilization or in the socialist reconstruction of
society under the leadership of the working class.
Let him who dares, face the workers and farmers and tell them that they
do not possess the knowledge, the will, the physical and intellectual
resources, and the political capacity to pull this country back from the
brink of the abyss to which monopoly capitalism has led it. The Socialist
Workers Party bases itself upon its supreme confidence in the creative
capacities of the working people.
The Socialist Workers Party presents itself under the banner of Marx and
Engels, Lenin and Trotsky, Debs and Haywood. Their banner is our
banner. These great leaders of international socialism were animated by
the conviction that unless the tremendous powers of modern industry
were taken over by the workers of the world, society would collapse into
barbarism. The state of the world today is proof of how correct they were.
Genuine labor politics, however, can have nothing in common with the
politics of the Democratic and Republican parties. Against the
back¬ground of national and international crisis, in¬creasing numbers of
the American people view their antics with indignation and disgust. These
parties are bi-partisan in foreign policy, bi-partisan in their devotion to
capitalism, bi-partisan in their incapacity to cure its evils, bi-partisan in
their assault upon the working class and the civil liber¬ties of the
American people. The only difference between them is the dispute over
who can best secure the privileges and the pilfering which fall to those
who administer the capitalist government.
These two parties would long ago have been repudiated and abandoned
by the working men and women except for the treacherous and
opportunist practices of the top union leaders, who are tied to the apron
strings of the capitalist politicians and act as apologists, recruiters and
vote-solicitors for them in the ranks of the workers.
The party of Henry Wallace represents nothing but an attempt to exploit
the disgust of the people with the Democrats and the Republicans. The
Wallace party is the unashamed champion of decaying capitalism.
Claiming support as an anti¬war party, its leader, Wallace, has betrayed
the struggle in advance by declaring his readiness to support the
projected war when it breaks out. Wallace's stock-in-trade is a recitation
of evils without one single concrete proposal to mobilize labor's strength
against monopoly capitalism, the source of all the evils he criticizes.
The Communist Party (Stalinists), which is supporting the Wallace party
in this year's election, is interested in the class struggle only insofar as it
can be exploited to advance the interests of the arch-reactionary Stalinist
bureaucracy in the Kremlin. When it serves Stalin's purposes, as it did
during the period of the Stalin-Hitler Pact, the American Stalinists talk
class struggle, support strikes, pay lip-service to the need for socialism,
etc. And similarly, when it serves Stalin's purposes, as it did during the
wartime period of the Washington-Moscow alliance, the American
Stalinists advocate class collaboration, "national unity," cessation of labor
and Negro struggles, strike¬breaking, etc. In their case they remain
instruments of Stalin's reactionary foreign policy and must be seen as
enemies of the workers' true class interests and revolutionary socialism.
The Socialist Party of Norman Thomas pretends that war can be stopped
by the United Nations just as it pretended that the war could be stopped
by the League of Nations. While denouncing war in general it is no less
ready to support World War III than it was to support World War II. It
seeks to reform and not to abolish capitalism.
The Socialist Workers Party alone consistently and unconditionally
champions the interests of the workers in their struggles against
capitalism, and works to organize them for its abolition. This goal is
expressed and concretized in the Socialist Workers Party's fundamental
objective in the 1948 campaign—the mobilization of the masses for a
Workers and Farmers Government.
Such a government, based on direct representation from democratically
elected councils of workers, farmers, housewives, soldiers and minor¬ity
groups, will initiate the reign of real and complete democracy in every
sphere of life. It will take over the means of production, expand and
coordinate them in a planned economy, and create the conditions for
permanent prosperity. It will end the rule of coupon-clippers and put the
former capitalists to work at honest toil. Its victory will bring peace and
harmony to the United States by doing away with the material cause of
class divisions and therefore of class conflicts. The victory of socialism in
the most powerful country will serve as an inspiring example to be quickly
followed by the rest of the world.
Only a Workers and Farmers Government can reorganize our crumbling
society on a rational basis and bring that new birth of freedom and
prosperity which is socialism.
Only a Workers and Farmers Government, pledged to irreconcilable
opposition to every vestige of monopoly capitalism, can prevent a Third
The program, the platform, the policies and the methods which we
advocate will be realized through the formation of a great independent
party, led and organized by the working class, including all those tens of
millions whose basic hostility to capitalism needs only this leadership to
achieve full consciousness and resolute action. Such a party, embracing
the productive, social and political activity of the vast majority of the
nation, is today the guarantee of democracy. By its mere existence it will
be an invincible safe¬guard against totalitarianism in any form.
The platform of the Socialist Workers Party is not designed to patch up
the dying capitalist sys¬tem, but to protect the interests of the toilers
against the brutal aggressions of their capitalist enemies. It is an election
platform, to be sup¬ported by the ballot on election day, but it is more
than that—it is also a program of action to unite and guide the struggles
of the workers on a year-round basis. Its effectiveness depends not only
on the support it receives in Congress and other legislative bodies, but
even more on the extent to which it receives support from the masses in
their daily struggles in the factories, in the unions, etc. Its aim is to
organize and mobilize the working people for the part they are destined to
play in the march to a better world.
In line with these fundamental objectives, the Socialist Workers Party
advocates this platform:
1. foreign policy
Take the war-making powers out of the hands of Congress! Let the
people vote through nationwide referendum on the question of war or
peace! No secret diplomacy! Withdraw all troops from foreign soil! For
the complete independence of the colonial peoples! No confidence
whatever in the United Nations, dominated by despots of every variety
and designed to spread the illusion that peace is possible under
capitalism! Full solidarity with the revolutionary struggles of workers and
farmers in all lands—those dominated by American imperialism as well as
those dominated by reactionary Stalinism! For the Socialist United States
of the World!
2. labor's standard of living
For the inclusion in all union contracts of an escalator clause (also known
as the sliding scale of wages or automatic cost-of-living bonus) to meet
the rising cost of living, with the safeguard that wages shall not fall below
the basic rates established in the contract! For the application of this
principle to wages of all government employees, veterans' allotments, old-
age allowances, old-age pensions and social security. For the
establishment of price control, to be regulated and enforced by mass
consumers committees of house¬wives, unionists, working farmers and
small shop¬keepers! For the 6-hour day, 30-hour week, with no reduction
in pay! For unemployment insurance equal to trade union wages!
3. labor and civil rights
Repeal the Taft-Hartley Act! No government interference in union affairs!
No restrictions on the right to organize, strike and picket! No compulsory
arbitration! Repeal all anti-labor laws! Down with government by
An end to red-baiting, witch hunts and political persecution! Withdraw the
"subversive" blacklists used for political persecution of government and
other employees! Abolish the House Committee on un-American
Activities! Defeat the Mundt Bill and all other measures to totalitarianize
American politics! Liberalize the election laws which discriminate against
minority parties through excessive petition requirements and subject them
to arbitrary exclusion from the ballot! Old enough to be drafted, old
enough to vote! Safeguard and extend the Bill of Rights!
4. rights of minority groups
Smash the Jim Crow system! Full economic, political and social equality
for the Negro people and other minorities! Pass and enforce legislation to
punish lynching, abolish the poll tax, establish a Fair Employment
Practices Committee with power to root out discriminatory practices,
eliminate segregation wherever it exists! Combat anti-Semitism in all its
forms! Wipe out discriminatory immigration policies and open the doors of
the U.S. to refugees! Unite the workers of all races for the common
struggle against their exploiters!
5. farm policy
Establish a federal farm program to guarantee the cost of production to
working farmers and to be operated under the control of their own
representatives! Expand rural electrification! No limitation on crops! A
federal program for soil conservation and flood control! No taxes on
savings of cooperatives! A federal ban on all speculation in farm
commodities! Abolish sharecropping and landlordism! The land to those
who work it!
6. military policy
Against a permanent conscript army! It is necessary to establish a system
of military training, financed and equipped by the government, but
operating under the control and discipline of the trade union movement!
Abolish the officer caste system in the armed forces! Full democratic
rights for the ranks in all the services, including their right to participate in
politics and public life, to elect their own officers, to organize along union
lines and engage in collective bargaining! Abolish race segregation in the
armed forces! Trade union wages for the servicemen!
The Federal government must be forced to declare a state of national
housing emergency and to initiate a program to erect 25 million
permanent low-cost, low-rent housing units! Nationalize and operate
under workers' control all feeder industries which provide building
materials! Operate this housing program through a government planning
board of outstanding architects, engineers and representatives of the
workers in the building trades! Finance the program with the billions now
spent for war preparations! Homes, not atom bombs! Clear the slums!
Restore rent control, under supervision of tenants committees!
Repeal all payroll taxes! Abolish all sales taxes! No taxes on incomes
under $5,000 a year! A 100% tax on incomes over $25,000 a year! Tax
the rich, not the poor!
9. government ownership of industry
Nationalize the basic industries, all war plants, all natural resources, and
operate them in the interests of the producers and consumers by
democratically-elected committees of workers and technicians!
Nationalize the banks! Institute a planned economy of abundance, based
on production for use, not for profit!
10. independent political action
Labor must break all ties with the capitalist parties—Democratic,
Republican, Wallaceite! For an Independent Labor Party based on the
trade unions and embracing the working farmers, Negroes and veterans!
For a United Labor Conference, with representation from all unions, to
launch labor's own party and run labor's own candidates for office!
For a Workers and Farmers Government!