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50 Years Ago: Eisenhower Speaks – Business as Usual

The American capitalist class is now indisputably the strongest in the world, and within the Western bloc its will is largely, and inevitably, taken for law. This gives great importance to the first State of the Union message sent by President Eisenhower to Congress, since in it we should be able to see exactly what the working class of the Western world is to be called upon to endure in the next four years. As a Socialist one would expect to find only changes in detail; and an examination of the message reveals few even of these.

For example, Eisenhower said that “the Administration is giving immediate increased attention to the development of additional Republic of Korea forces.” This follows on recent statements by prominent Republicans that, if war breaks out in Europe, the Europeans should provide the soldiers and America the arms, and that in Asia and American leaders should “use Asiatics to fight Asiatics.” It is bad for the Government if too many American workers are killed off fighting for the American capitalists in Korea; therefore, let the Korean workers do it. But this idea is not new. Besides the contingents from many states already fighting in Korea, on January 8th new detachments arrived from the Netherlands, Greece, Siam and Belgium. And in the older Empires, this practice is taken for granted. When some of the member-states of the United Nations raised the question of France's treatment of her North African colonies, President Auriol boasted that France had been a pioneer in the equal treatment and association of races. If this means anything, it seems to refer to the fact that the French ruling class does not insist on French workers exclusively doing the fighting which is necessary to preserve the Empire intact; Negro troops are drafted to morocco to suppress the Moroccans, and Moroccan soldiers are sent to Indo-China to fight the Viet-Minh rebels. In Malaya, the British ruling class uses a large variety of troops. General Sir Gerald Templer, the High Commissioner there, seems to think it a matter for self-congratulation that he has under his command not only British but also Chinese, Indians, Eurasians, Malays and Ghurkhas, together with soldiers from subject-territories as far afield as Nyasaland, Kenya, Fiji and Sarawak.

(From front page article, Socialist Standard, March 1953)