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Showing posts from February, 2017

US Naval Nostalgia for a Traditional Enemy

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The British White Paper on defence spending provided a pretext for the US Navy to weigh into the debate on US rearmament. Affecting to treat mention of building up the Royal Navy as being aimed at the US, Admiral Leahy publicly asked whether the moment had arrived to match the British building programme. It was still an episode of the cart of armaments was put before the horse of diplomacy. Leahy’s remark only made sense if an Anglo-Japanese alliance against the US in the Pacific was a meaningful risk. It sounded pleasant, though, to US traditionalists. An Anglo-US agreement aimed at Japan was equally improbable; no such thing was even talked about, but in the calculus of diplomacy Japan’s aggressive expansionism threatened the English speaking powers with a force and immediacy, which entirely eclipsed their historic mutual rivalry. The President wisely ducked this aspect of naval rearmament, and instead focused on steering it through the minefields of his own social legislation. The…

Labour Battles in the US, Economic Pain in Western Europe

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The US had entered a phase of industrial agitation, almost on a par with the near war conditions twenty years before, when the overtly socialist IWW conducted an almost revolutionary campaign. In 1937 the motivation was far more obviously economic, but the personal ambition of John L. Lewis to establish his Congress of Industrial Organizations into the dominant force in national industrial negotiations also played a major part. Together with its affiliated union the UAW, the CIO was maintaining the pressure against General Motors. The flashpoint was the town of Anderson in Indiana, home to two GM plants, employing more than a quarter of the town’s population. Violence between unionised and non-unionised labour reached a scale, where martial law was declared by the State Governor and 1,000 National Guardsmen were deployed. Lewis publicly stated that next on his list were the Chrysler and, so far resolutely anti-union, Ford Corporation.
The new British White Paper on defence spending m…

Forced Rejuvenation of Supreme US Justice and "Voluntary" Physical Training of British Public

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Newly re-elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt began to put some flesh on the bones of his scheme to expand executive power at the expense of the judiciary in the form of a proposal to change the membership of the Supreme Court, which had acted as a major brake on his early reforms. Once a Justice had reached the age of 70, this would create space for anew Justice to be nominated. In theory this could have expanded the Supreme Court to 15 Justices. In practice it was intended to dilute the opposition to Roosevelt of the mainly elderly Justices then sitting. Scenting a major Constitutional conflict in the offing, Wall Street fell sharply.
The British government published a White Paper on a scheme to promote a national scheme of physical education. It was the brainchild of Neville Chamberlain, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was almost certain to succeed Stanley Baldwin as Prime Minister in a few months. It was but a pale shadow of Nazi Germany’s Kraft durch Freude movement. It …

What Counts as Trotskism or Fighting as a Foreign Volunteer in Spain?

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Soviet justice showed its usual promptitude and resolution in passing death sentences – rapidly carried out – on 13 of the 17 defendants in the latest trial of Trotskyists and wreckers and foreign agents in Moscow. Karl Radek was one of the defendants spared, in part because his testimony established the existence of a sinister “third Organization” training Trotskyite cadres to perform its pernicious work. He denounced"semi-Trotskyites, quarter-Trotskyites, one-eighth-Trotskyites, people who helped us, not knowing of the terrorist organization but sympathizing with us, people who from liberalism, from a Frondeagainst the Party, gave us this help". In Nazi Germany the bar for culpable Jewishness was set at one quarter, Trotskyism was clearly one degree more insidious. Even the US ambassador believed that the trial had been conducted fairly.
Against the background of the sad attempts by France and Britain, to restrain the flood of German and Italian “volunteers” (in reality f…