Roosevelt Bids for Dictatorship (1933)


Roosevelt Bids for Dictatorship
Nazi Tactics -- Capitalism in the Last Ditch

Two articles from the Weekly People edition of March 18, 1933 as reprinted in The People, March 19, 1983


50 years ago in the Weekly People


From the Weekly People, March 18, 1933

Dictatorship as a cure for depression


With a few poorly veiled slams at his predecessor, President Roosevelt plunged into his inaugural address on Saturday last. In his avowed effort to address his hearers with candor, he slurred over the unemployment situation, slapped the great industrialists on the wrist and administered the expected rebuke to "callous and selfish wrongdoing" in the banking business, but naturally made no proposition that in any way would remove the present gangs from control.

The truly significant paragraphs of the speech were those wherein he declared "frankly and boldly" that he would not hesitate to usurp the powers of a dictator in case Congress would not act up to his orders and fulfill his commands. Said the newly inaugurated President:

"And it is to be hoped that the normal balance of executive and legislative authority may be wholly equal, wholly adequate to meet the unprecedented task before us. But it may be that an unprecedented demand and need for undelayed action may call for temporary departure from that normal balance of public procedure.

"I am prepared under my constitutional duty to recommend the measures that a stricken nation in the midst of a stricken world may require. These measures, or such other measures as the Congress may build out of its experience and wisdom, I shall seek, within my constitutional authority, to bring to speedy adoption.

"But in the event that the Congress shall fail to take one of these two courses, in the event that the national emergency is still critical, I shall not evade the clear course of duty that will then confront me. I shall ask the Congress for the one remaining instrument to meet the crisis-broad executive power to wage a war against the emergency, as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe." (Cheers and applause.)

Cheers and applause! Told that the people of this country will be deprived of such liberties as we have so far enjoyed, the listeners burst into applause. Was that the people of the United States who applauded? If so, they deserve every fetter that will be laid upon them. Or was it merely an inauguration crowd composed chiefly of political toadies and office seekers?

At any rate, so spoke Roosevelt, and there he stands. The "leadership," the dictatorship, which business has cried for for some time has declared itself willing to "serve." It now remains only to see if this dictator is capable of creating-at the expense of the remnant of our much vaunted constitutional liberties-even a temporary order in the general chaos produced by the breakdown of capitalism.

For years the SLP has warned the workers of the nation that the breakdown of capitalism as a system of the old order of things was at hand, and that the only way the system of private ownership could continue to survive was as a species of industrial feudalism-a system where top-capitalism would ride the crest of the wave; the middle class would be almost totally annihilated; competition would practically be at an end; political and civil liberties would be restricted; reaction would be in the saddle in the shape of a dictator and the workers would be -- to use Roosevelt's own words -- directly recruited by the government itself -- would be abject slaves under an all-commanding industrial master.

In Italy and Germany this sort of capitalist reaction is already on the rampage.

Workers of America, how do you like it? There you see the image of President Roosevelt's promise! That is the best he has to offer as a "new deal." If you do not like it, organize in Industrial Unions for the abolition of capitalism and the institution of the Workers' Industrial Union government!


From the Weekly People. March 18, 1933


A few days before the German farce election, the part of the world still responsive was startled by the destruction of the German Reichstag building by incendiary fire. The Hitlerites, whose election slogan had been, "Marxism must be killed," instantly set up a howl that the dastardly deed had been committed by the Communists. Communist members of the Reichstag were hunted down and arrested. Ernest Torgler, Communist floor leader of the Reichstag, who with some other Communists was in the building shortly before the outburst of the fire, surrendered to the police, according to his own statement, in order to have a chance "to prove the insanity of the accusation against the Communists."

Marie Reese, one of the hundred Communist members of the Reichstag, fled to Copenhagen from the terrors instituted after the fire. She declares she had seen the preparation for the outburst for some time and had prepared her get-away. In a statement to the press she says:

"I swear that we Communists had no responsibility for the fire. We do not attack buildings except in a revolution. The only persons interested in preventing the Reichstag (to be elected next Sunday) from opening its session are the National Socialists (Fascists), because we were going to reveal in Parliament their methods.

"A few weeks ago we learned that the Nazis intended to prepare the ground for their program against the Communists by staging a fake attack on Adolf Hitler. Although the Nazis seem temporarily to have changed their tactics, the mock attack may occur in the near future."

From all evidence only one conclusion can be drawn, namely the Nazis wanted first an excuse to control the elections by force, and secondly, they wanted no Reichstag at all, at least not one with representatives of revolutionary workers.

Their methods, however, are clumsy, as such methods usually are. A "Dutch Communist," Van der Luebbe, was "arrested" on the premises, with pockets full of identification papers. Of course, he instantly and "voluntarily" surrendered to the police and "confessed." All nicely made to order! What does it matter that the man is an utter stranger to the German Communists and that the Dutch Communist party asserts that it expelled him two years ago "as an alleged police spy and agent provocateur"?

These are only minor matters. The important thing is that the Nazis took the opportunity of choking the election down the throats of the Germans with the bayonet, and that for the present they can rule the roost without benefit of the Reichstag!

One wonders how long the German working class is going to allow itself to be intimidated by this scavenger crew.