(Barry Butler)(Video) (recitation by Barb)

People's History: World War 2 - A People's War? (Chap 16)

Elegie, Marian Anderson, 1940s
Za Naroda Grihe Svoga
This Land Is Your Land, Woody Guthrie, 1940

Summary
Our greatest war, the war for truth and liberty,
was business-centered, striving for a war economy.

Chapter
Was World War 2 a "people's war" against
the fascist governments? We might have sensed
a problem here: our role in Panama,
and Haiti, Cuba, and Colombia;
appeasing Hitler, looking past Nanking,
and fueling Mussolini; posturing
(Atlantic Charter) for the post-war rights
of humans while a secret memo cites
a plan for empire; FDR delayed
on helping Jews; we acted the charade
of "liberty for all" with U.S. blacks
abused and lynched, and racial-based attacks
on Japanese-Americans, interned
throughout the war. The accolades we earned
in Europe when we came to liberate
the world were heard above the great debate
for Middle-Eastern oil. We sought "a peace
for oil, a peace for gold." Our expertise
at world affairs - cooperation through
control - was growing (witness our debut
as chief United Nations advocate).
The vital issue, then - the benefit
of war for business - must be recognized.
For even during war a shout reprised
some fourteen-thousand times was "out on strike!"
with seven-million workers all alike,
opposing profits growing twenty times
as fast as wages (as in textiles), crimes
of management disguised by needs of war,
the Smith Act placing malcontents before
the courts, as business strived to gradually
make permanent the war economy.
And back at war, the German bombs were seen
as brutal, inhumane. But how obscene
were our assaults on Dresden, Tokyo,
and many other cities -- meant to show
our strength and weaken enemy morale?
The War Department said the rationale
to use the atom bomb was very clear:
Japan's control by Russia was our fear.

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