The Forgotten Coup
July 29, 2004 2:22 AM   Subscribe

In 1934, the only thing standing between a fascist coup and democracy in the United States was the courage and honor of one man.
posted by euphorb (50 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
In 2000, the only thing standing between a fascist coup and democracy in the United States was the courage and honor of one man.
posted by johnny novak at 3:16 AM on July 29, 2004

You know this happened in an alternate universe, right?
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:17 AM on July 29, 2004 [1 favorite]

posted by moonbird at 4:32 AM on July 29, 2004

I don't understand how this plot posed a real threat. Did the plotters actually have 500,000 veterans ready to march? If so, you'd have thought they wouldn't need to take the risk of recruiting a loose cannon like Butler. Or were they counting on Butler to recruit the 500,000 veterans? If so, that's not a very concrete plot. Would the march of 500,000 veterans in itself be enough to "persuade" Roosevelt to retire? The Bonus March of 1932 wasn't enough; MacArthur took care of it without much difficulty. Why couldn't that have happened again?
posted by profwhat at 4:46 AM on July 29, 2004

(double post, btw)
posted by briank at 4:48 AM on July 29, 2004

Can anyone name the modern day Morgans? :-)
posted by nofundy at 4:52 AM on July 29, 2004

Did the plotters actually have 500,000 veterans ready to march?

No, that's the ridiculous part. All of the veterans who were inclined to march on washington had alread been there for a few years and they loved Roosevelt.

MacArthur took care of it without much difficulty. Why couldn't that have happened again?

I guess when you have a make-believe army, it can be as disciplined and moraled as you want. But as you insinuated, MacArthur wasn't going to stand for a coup unless it was guaranteed that he'd be El Jefe.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:09 AM on July 29, 2004


Here in Wilmington, North Carolina, 1898 saw what is as far as I'm aware the only successful coup d'etat in US history (assuming that voter fraud doesn't count). The Republican-Populist coalition was in power, the Democrats didn't like it, and so several days before the election they started shooting at black people (almost universally Republicans or Populists at the time) to keep them away from the polls. It didn't work, the coalition won, so they simply ran the newly-elected officials, along with the black newspaper editor and various other influential Republicans out of town. Daniel Lindsay Russell, Republican governor of North Carolina at the time and a former Wilmingtonian, had come to town to try to calm things down; he was very nearly killed and escaped with his life only because a member of the white supremacist paramilitary cabal which planned to kill him tipped him off and he fled.

The leader of the coup appointed himself mayor and his cronies to positions on the city council and county commission and that was that.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 5:34 AM on July 29, 2004

Well, weirder things have happened, and I'm certainly willing to believe that some kook approached Butler with a far-fetched plan, but the article itself you linked to is just way too credulous about this army of 500,000 soldiers who were ready to march on Washington. A half-a-million veterans, willing to commit treason for the gold standard? And the article just passes that along as a fact? Right.
posted by LairBob at 6:04 AM on July 29, 2004

It's too bad there aren't some MeFiers of my father's generation. He'd say that the Fascist coup was real, and it happened in '33 when FDR was sworn in. My dad once said of his WW II service, "I was a political prisoner of Franklin Delano Roosevelt."
posted by alumshubby at 6:11 AM on July 29, 2004

My dad once said of his WW II service, "I was a political prisoner of Franklin Delano Roosevelt."

Your dad's right. The proper response to the Pearl Harbor attack was "boys will be boys." We got worked up over nothing. And Europe would have looked a lot better with Nazi flags over everything.

Seriously, I think most people of your dad's age were very happy to have FDR because they liked eating.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:29 AM on July 29, 2004

Nice snarkism, Mayor:

My dad's no longer here to defend his views, but as I recall it he was your basic isolationist, and I make no apologies on his behalf for his views. He grew up in farming country in New Jersey, and everybody in his area made it through the Depression with plenty to eat, if little money. Horrifyingly enough, Dad was also something of a Nazi apologist ("Everybody overlooks all the good things Hitler did") and an anti-Semite to boot. ("No, the gas chambers were a bad idea; just sterilize all of 'em.") To put it mildly, he couldn't have cared less if all of Europe were Lebensraum as long as he were left the hell alone. As for Japan, he felt they'd have ignored us if we hadn't interfered with them in the first place -- I guess he meant us shutting off the flow of American scrap metal to Japanese foundries and trying to prevent the Japanese from "acquiring" a Greater East Co-Prosperity Sphere. Right up until a certain Sunday morning, such views were more widespread than is today commonly remembered.

Nevertheless, if you ask around among the "Greatest Generation" (I can still hear Dad's derisive snort at that appellation") you'll find there were quite a lot of folks who viewed FDR as the closest thing we had to a dictator in recent memory. He was far from universally loved in his day.

euphorb: Great link! I've always admired Smedley "War Is A Racket" Butler but I never knew anything about this incident.
posted by alumshubby at 6:53 AM on July 29, 2004

This gives me a new appreciation for Sinclair Lewis's It Can't Happen Here (1935).
posted by pmurray63 at 7:30 AM on July 29, 2004

recycled comment:

oh, we loves us some smedley butler. him and good ole' dan daly, hoorah!

though...i wonder, who was the first billionaire in america. i thought rockefeller only had a fortune (only, he says) around 400 million. i'm not sure how many billionaires were around world war i.

anyway, fuck yeah, man. THIS is the kind of role model we need anymore.

posted by taumeson at 7:33 AM on July 29, 2004

To put it mildly, he couldn't have cared less if all of Europe were Lebensraum as long as he were left the hell alone.

Isn't this the way of the mass of the US today? How many 'armchair patriots' are willing to stick their neck out in any way?
posted by rough ashlar at 8:03 AM on July 29, 2004

Curley - why do you think so? This alleged coup was never proven and might have been a canny attempt, on Butler's part, at self promoting PR. But it could very well have been real - the US was in deep turmoil in '34, with economic and dust-bowl refugees fleeing to the coasts and communism making political advances. The 1930's was most certainly a period in US history with a higher likelihood of a coup attempt than almost any other American historical era .

So - maybe.

It's notable, for one thing, that the 1930's - according to an Editor and Publisher magazine commissioned study - marked the start of the now well entrenched trend (since the 1930's) for American newspapers to endorse Republican candidates. presumably this has more to do with the economic self interest of those who own and control the media than with any specific ideological agenda.

"every election year, except 1964 and 1992, of the newspapers that did endorse a candidate, more endorsed the conservative candidate. Since 1948, newspapers supported the Republican candidate 86.7%, while the Democratic candidates received 13.3% of the endorsements."

Editors and Publishers currently look very favorably on at least one of George W. Bush's policy initiatives - capital gains tax cuts :

"Speaking to a large gathering of newspaper editors, publishers and executives this afternoon, President Bush defended his policies on Iraq and the war on terror, saying "We're changing the world for the better.".....The whole issue of questions from the audience at the Associated Press annual luncheon was a running joke for the president during his talk. He opened his speech by saying, "I kind of like ducking questions," and said he would be "glad to duck any questions like my mother once told me to do" following his remarks. .....In the end he only took three questions, from those submitted in advance by AP members, and read by Burl Osborne, the AP chairman. After replying to one question he apologized for "the long answer, but at least I answered it."
The speech was broken by applause only once, when Bush called for the end to the so-called "death tax," which he said unfairly taxed individual's assets twice......The luncheon was also attended by many members of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and the Newspaper Association of America, groups that are both meeting in Washington this week."
(more on media bias)


All of which serves simply as a backdrop for my rejoinder to your "Butler's alleged coup is all in your head" argument :

What really distinguishes the Anglo-American political tradition from the Spanish one that has been long marked by a history of coups and attempted coups is strong church/state separation and - more fundamentally - a strong political taboo (declining lately - see The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012) against the involvement of the US military in US domestic political affairs.

Now, the sine qua non of any coup is the existence of an empowered political faction which feels that it's interests are not being well served - and although populist coups are not unknown, coups initiated by ruling elite ( See : Who Rules America Now?, by G. William Domhoff ) are far more common.

Further, the sentiments of the American elite and business class have been drifting rightward for quite some time. To quote from Domhoff's update, above, on his seminal earlier work :

"Despite these various kinds of objective evidence that the power elite has great power in relation to the federal government, many corporate leaders feel that they are relatively powerless in the face of government. To hear them tell it, the Congress is more responsive to organized labor, environmentalists, and consumers than it is to them. They also claim to be harassed by willful and arrogant bureaucrats who encroach upon the rightful preserves of the private sector, sapping them of their confidence and making them hesitant to invest their capital.

These feelings have been documented most vividly by David Vogel and Leonard Silk, one a political scientist, the other a business columnist for the New York Times. They were permitted to observe a series of meetings at the Conference Board in 1974 and 1975 in which the social responsibilities of business were being discussed. The men at these meetings were convinced that everybody but them was listened to by government. Government was seen as responsive to the immediate preferences of the majority of citizens. "The have-nots are gaining steadily more political power to distribute the wealth downward," complained one executive. "The masses have turned to a larger government."

Some even wondered whether democracy and capitalism are compatible. "Can we still afford one man, one vote? We are tumbling on the brink," said one. "One man, one vote has undermined the power of business in all capitalist countries since World War II," announced another. "The loss of the rural vote weakens conservatives." However, Silk and Vogel believe that businessmen in America are unlikely to go so far as to be fascists, even with their antidemocratic bias, because they are so antigovernment....."

These concerns have since been expressed - quite aggressively since the pivotal Powell Memo - through the indirect and sometimes covert insertion of many billions into the US political process :

"Beginning in the early 1970s, a new conservative establishment set a counter-movement in motion to replace the institutions and expunge the ideas of American liberalism, which had dominated public thought and social policy since the New Deal. A new breed of conservatives sought to roll back a set of social gains going back to FDR, Truman, Johnson, and Kennedy.

They shifted the nation rightward; tilted the distribution of the nation's assets away from the middle class and the poor, the elderly, and the young; they red-penciled laws and legal precedents at the heart of American justice. They aimed to corporatize Medicare and Social Security. They marketed class values while accusing their opponents of "class warfare." They loosened or repealed the rights and protections of organized labor and the poor, voters, and minorities. They slashed the taxes of corporations and the rich, and rolled back the economic gains of the rest. They came to dominate or heavily influence centers of scholarship, law, and politics, education, and governance - or put new ones in their place."

But - try though they might - these newly minted conservative and arch-conservative (or radical, as it were) institutions could not completely expunge notions of equity - economic and otherwise - from American mainstream culture. The human inclination towards equity or - at least - towards "fair play" may be genetic and, if so, the apparent recent increase in a more directly proactive sort of approach in American politics - vote fraud - makes a certain sense : populism, if in a certain sense instinctual, may only be controllable in the end through criminal measures.

The late Steve Kangas (who died under rather mysterious circumstances) painted a dire picture of an emergent "machine of control" which reduces the need to project power from the barrel of a gun, in his The Origins of the Overclass :

"The wealthy have always used many methods to accumulate wealth, but it was not until the mid-1970s that these methods coalesced into a superbly organized, cohesive and efficient machine. After 1975, it became greater than the sum of its parts, a smooth flowing organization of advocacy groups, lobbyists, think tanks, conservative foundations, and PR firms that hurtled the richest 1 percent into the stratosphere.

The origins of this machine, interestingly enough, can be traced back to the CIA. This is not to say the machine is a formal CIA operation, complete with code name and signed documents. (Although such evidence may yet surface — and previously unthinkable domestic operations such as MK-ULTRA, CHAOS and MOCKINGBIRD show this to be a distinct possibility.) But what we do know already indicts the CIA strongly enough. Its principle creators were Irving Kristol, Paul Weyrich, William Simon, Richard Mellon Scaife, Frank Shakespeare, William F. Buckley, Jr., the Rockefeller family, and more. Almost all the machine's creators had CIA backgrounds.

During the 1970s, these men would take the propaganda and operational techniques they had learned in the Cold War and apply them to the Class War."

To the extent that one is willing to grant Kangas' case, this sort of control is usually applied with a fairly subtle, deft hand- and there is a difference - in degree, at least - between criminally undermining or sabotaging elections and simply flooding the streets with troops willing to shoot down any who might protest such a seizure of power.

But these differences come down to - end the end - questions of manners and, if the hyper-elite of America and the World are marked by a certain style - a la Dylan's portrait of Zanzinger's vicious murder of Hattie Carroll and the scandal of Kennedy clan member Michael Skakel's brutal slaying of Martha Moxley - that seems on the face of it to smack of extreme sociopathology, it is worth considering the ways in which differences in degree - as with individuals and families experiencing explosive growth in prosperity - may over time and with all the accoutrements that come with wealth and privilege - things, castles, walls to keep out prying eyes, good schools and travel and - mostly importantly - access to the right sorts of people - might seem to become differences in kind.

Are the hyper-rich different ? Yes, surely. Are they fundamentally different ? Perhaps, or perhaps not, but some of these certainly view themselves - and not always consciously - as exemplars of those whose manifest moral worth has been blessed by the sunny pecuniary rays of Calvin's severe God or in some cases as Nietzcheian or Rayndian uber-beings unconstrained by petty norms of human morality and - as they ascend to Olympian status - able to discard the manners and habits which create the discrete charm of the mere bourgeoisie - in short, the hyper-rich can do what they please and - if things should get regrettably, pleasantly, or even titillatingly out of hand - tap personal lawyers on retainer, in all but the most extreme cases, to clean up any and all ensuing messes while they stroll along to the next of life's disappointments and distractions, amidst a hunger and an ennui demanding ever more extreme palliatives.

And when - you may ask - do the prerogatives of the wealthiest slide over, with the assumed rights of wealth seeming to dwarf those of mere mortals - slide or ooze over into pathology or even evil ?

This is not a merely academic of theological question for - while the crimes of a Skakel or a Zanzinger are purely personal, venal, and if not exactly unpremeditated at least not programmatic - history show us many cases in which a tiny empowered elite, cut loose from prevailing societal and human norms, has visited almost unbelievable violence upon large numbers of the innocent and the less privileged of society.

What do I refer to ? Well, Gautemala serves as a paradigmatic case.

The smaller the elite and the greater the perceived danger - of wealth redistribution mostly - the greater the odds skew towards doing, and becoming, evil. The hyper-rich are a distinct social grouping who - Paris Hilton's aside - largely keep to themselves and - as a social grouping - are clearly prone to the sort of Group Polarization - now a well studied phenomenon - that tends to effect all distinct social groups and subcultures (Metafilter included).

It is worth noting - within that overall context - the recent acceleration of trends in the concentration of American wealth in the hands of a fraction of a percent of the population. The current American political and economic system has lately been serving the needs of a substantial minority of Americans quite well, and it has been serving the needs of a tiny minority of the super-rich in America very well.

So well - indeed - that one might advance the proposition that the newly emerging oligarchic American hyper-elite class shares far more in common with wealthy ruling hyper-elites in Latin America and around the World than with the vast majority of Americans themselves and that - because of this - American Democracy is now more in danger than in any time period since, certainly, the 1930's (and perhaps than any time in democracy's brief tenure).

The "class struggle" component of the Roosevelt-Era "New Deal" reforms can certainly be overstated - Roosevelt can be seen (I'd argue) as a very skillful "fixer" or "cleaner" who came in to rectify an economic mess during a time of great national danger due to economic instability. But there were certainly those among the ruling elite of that era who felt, passionately, that Roosevelt was not so much a "fixer" as a stalking horse for socialism.

And would that estimation be incorrect ? Well, that depends on one's vision of Democracy - what constitutes a healthy democracy ? Does that presuppose a certain level of economic equity ?

As of when Roosevelt had taken office, economic inequality in the US - as measured by a number of indices including the GINI index - had been increasing. It was not until 1948 that the trend towards increasing economic inequality ( GINI index measured ) began to reverse and - from 1948 to about 1970, American society was marked, and blessed, by a widely distributed economic prosperity that was the envy of the entire World - especially for the fact the the rising economic tide of prosperity did indeed lift most boats. So much so, in fact, that newly affluent Americans became - for a brief while - willing to consider the project of giving economic and other assistance to those who had been left behind during the long boom, America's poor.

Since 1970, economic and (many would say) political inequality has been growing in the US and - lately, under George W. Bush - that trend has dramatically accelerated.

It is only the vast affluence of the US which masks the fact that the income distribution profile of the US has come to resemble that of many Third World or Developing World countries and the rebuttal to this observation - that such a comparison is meaningless due to the affluence of the American middle class - is now starting to lose validity as great chunks of the American middle class shear off, like pieces of the Larsen "B" ice shelf, to drift towards poverty : and hence my question -

Given the widely recognized association, Worldwide and historically, between economic inequality and political instability - a tendency towards coups and attempted coups being one expression of such instability - how much farther can current trends in American wealth distribution, towards extreme inequality, continue to drift and how much more of the nation's overall wealth can become concentrated in the hands of a small fraction of a percent of Americans, the hyper-elite, before those Americans decide to safeguard their political interests - in a fashion more aggressive than current methods - and cash in on the political and cultural alienation of America's praetorian class to make a move to seize - directly and firmly - the reins of power?
posted by troutfishing at 8:05 AM on July 29, 2004 [12 favorites]

All this spare time! - I'm a lot like the idle rich. I need to cook breakfast and head out the door. It's sunny out and, if I keep pecking away at my keyboard, I'll get a blood clot in my leg that'll migrate to my brain, cause a stroke, and reduce me to a drolling idiot before my time.

I'd probably be drooling too, but I'd still be droll even if perhaps not - a la Alanis - good.
posted by troutfishing at 8:20 AM on July 29, 2004 [1 favorite]

Trout, I say it just because those numbers weren't there. A plan for anything approaching 500,000 vets to march would have left a larger historical footprint than it did.

I don't doubt that MacGuire approached Butler, but it was MacGuire and his pals' pipe dream-- they hoped that the 500,000 they claimed to already have would later materialize if a leader like Butler agreed to join their cause. He didn't, so the point is moot, but they wouldn't have got the men even if he agreed. So, yeah, I accept that a few bankers hatched a plot to overthrow the government, but the whole plan was less than half baked and would never have worked. Naturally, it's great that Butler refused, but he didn't save the government singlehandedly like the link says that he did.

And it's a good point that FDR was a "fixer." His policies and leadership probably saved the system, for better or worse. If the Great Depression had been left unaddressed Hoover-style for much longer, the ranks of communists, socialists and sympathizers would have swelled and our present system would be very different.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:34 AM on July 29, 2004

Nevertheless, if you ask around among the "Greatest Generation" ... you'll find there were quite a lot of folks who viewed FDR as the closest thing we had to a dictator in recent memory.

Not even great leaders have 100% approval. That said, FDR made his political opponents as successful as George McGovern:

posted by Mayor Curley at 8:41 AM on July 29, 2004

good maps, mayor, thanks. one question though: what the fuck was wrong with Maine???

all in all, a fascismating post, thanks euphorb
posted by matteo at 8:58 AM on July 29, 2004

As for Japan, he felt they'd have ignored us if we hadn't interfered with them in the first place -- I guess he meant us shutting off the flow of American scrap metal to Japanese foundries and trying to prevent the Japanese from "acquiring" a Greater East Co-Prosperity Sphere.

Or possibly the American blockade attempting to starve the Japanese war machine of oil and other resources. Maybe the supply of weapons and pilots to the Chinese. The American government was not a neutral power in the region despite the wishes of the American people or the "Official" position of the administration. Pearl Harbor was a gloves off response to American pasive and overt agression.
posted by thirteen at 9:19 AM on July 29, 2004

Curley - I'm surprised that no one has dug deeper into this story. Here's some more material. The backdrop for the alleged coup was the very real and hugely documented "Bonus March" on Washington in 1932.

The coup plot might have been half baked, but the major financial interests behind it were also behind the "Hitler Project" (see links below). That was a very successful project - except if one happened to be Jewish, gay, or a gypsy or if one lived anywhere in Europe or Russia. So, I'm not sure it's accurate to characterize the plot as merely half-baked.

For one thing - besides the enormous scale of the Hitler Project - financing Hitler's rise to power and building the German War machine - and the extensive "Trading with the Enemy" during WW2 that the Dupont's and Mellons carried out (along with Henry Ford, IBM, GM, George Bush's grandfather, Allen Dulles......yadda, yadda) the DuPonts, I've recently read (see below) funded American fascist groups which carried out domestic terrorism.

S0 - not so silly or vague after all, but a small piece of a much wider effort.


Here - with photographs even - is The Sad Tale of the Bonus Marchers

The Bonus Army of 1932" (By Brian R. Train, for History 151, U/Mass) :

"At the end of World War One, as the American Expeditionary Force was being demobilised, a grateful U.S. government passed legislation that authorised the payment of cash bonuses to war veterans, adjusted for length of service, in 1945. However, the Crash of 1929 wiped out many veterans' savings and jobs, forcing them out into the streets. Groups of veterans began to organise and petition the government to pay them their cash bonus immediately. In the spring of 1932, during the worst part of Depression, a group of 300 veterans in Portland, Oregon organised by an ex-Sergeant named Walter Walters named itself the 'Bonus Expeditionary Force' or 'Bonus Army,' and began travelling across the country to Washington to lobby the government personally. By the end of May over 3,000 veterans and their families had made their way to the capital. Most of them lived in a collection of makeshift huts and tents on the mud flats by the Anacostia River outside of the city limits. Similar ghettos could be found sheltering the migrant unemployed and poor outside any large city in the United States and were called 'Hoovervilles.' By July, almost 25,000 people lived in Anacostia, making it the largest Hooverville in the country.

In June, the Patman Bonus Bill, which proposed immediate payment of the veterans' cash bonuses, was debated in the House of Representatives. There was stiff resistance from Republicans loyal to President Hoover, as the estimated cost of the bill was over $2 billion and the Hoover Administration was adamant about maintaining a balanced budget. The bill passed in the Congress on June 15, but was defeated in the Senate only two days later. In response, almost 20,000 veterans slowly shuffled up and down Pennsylvania Avenue for three days in a protest local newspapers titled the 'Death March.'

As the weather and the rhetoric grew hotter, concern grew that the Bonus Army Marchers could cause widespread civil disorder and violence. There were scuffles with the police and some Senators' cars were stoned by unruly crowds of veterans. Retired Marine General Smedley Butler, an immensely popular figure among veterans and who had become a vocal opponent of the Hoover Administration, participated in Bonus Army demonstrations and made inflammatory speeches (He would be approached in 1933 by Fascist sympathisers in the American Legion, who would try to involve him in an actual plot to seize power in a coup d'etat.). It was alleged at the time that the March was directed by the Communist Party of the USA in pursuit of a genuine revolution, but it has since been established that the Party's only actual involvement was sending a small number of agitators and speakers. Nevertheless, President Hoover considered the Bonus Army Marchers a threat to public order and his personal safety. Contrary to tradition, he did not attend the closing ceremonies for that session of Congress on July 16 and many members left the Capitol building through underground tunnels to avoid facing the demonstrators outside.

Many of the Marchers left Washington after Congress adjourned, but there were still over 10,000 angry, restless veterans in the streets. On July 28, 1932, two veterans were shot and killed by panicked policemen in a riot at the bottom of Capitol Hill. This provided the final stimulus. Hoover told Ralph Furley, the Secretary of War, to tell General Douglas Macarthur, then the Army Chief of Staff, that he wished the Bonus Army Marchers evicted from Washington. Troops from nearby Forts Myer and Washington were ordered in to remove the Bonus Army Marchers from the streets by force.

One battalion from the 12th Infantry Regiment and two squadrons of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment (under the command of Major George S. Patton, who had taken over as second in command of the Regiment less than three weeks earlier) concentrated at the Ellipse just west of the White House. At 4:00 p.m. the infantrymen donned gas masks and fixed bayonets, the cavalry drew sabres, and the whole force (followed by several light tanks) moved down Pennsylvania Avenue to clear it of people.

Against the advice of his assistant, Major Dwight D. Eisenhower, Macarthur had taken personal command of the operation. President Hoover had ordered Macarthur to clear Pennsylvania Avenue only, but Macarthur immediately began to clear all of downtown Washington, herding the Marchers out and torching their huts and tents. Tear gas was used liberally and many bricks were thrown, but no shots were fired during the entire operation. By 8:00 p.m. the downtown area had been cleared and the bridge across the Anacostia River, leading to the Hooverville where most of the Marchers lived, was blocked by several tanks.

That evening Hoover sent duplicate orders via two officers to Macarthur forbidding him to cross the Anacostia to clear the Marchers' camp, but Macarthur flatly ignored the President's orders, saying that he was 'too busy' and could not be bothered by people coming down and pretending to bring orders.' Macarthur crossed the Anacostia at 11:00 p.m., routed the marchers along with 600 of their wives and children out of the camp, and burned it to the ground. Then, incredibly, he called a press conference at midnight where he praised Hoover for taking the responsibility for giving the order to clear the camp. He said, 'Had the President not acted within 24 hours, he would have been faced with a very grave situation, which would have caused a real battle.... Had he waited another week, I believe the institutions of our government would have been threatened.' Ralph Furley, the Secretary of War, was present at this conference and praised Macarthur for his action in clearing the camp, even though he too was aware that Hoover had given directly contrary orders. It was this sort of insubordination and manipulation that would lead to Macarthur being summarily relieved of his command of the UN forces in Korea in 1951.

The last of the Bonus Army Marchers left Washington by the end of the following day. Hoover could not publicly disagree with his Chief of Staff and Secretary of War, and ended up paying the political cost of this incident. The possibility of widespread civil unrest growing into a popular revolution had been averted, but the forceful eviction of the Bonus Army Marchers, even though not one shot had been fired and only four people killed (the two demonstrators who had been shot by the police and two infants asphyxiated by tear gas), helped to tilt public opinion against Hoover and certainly contributed to his defeat in the 1932 election.

In the end, some money was paid to veterans but not without further difficulties. Within a year of the Bonus Army Incident, President Roosevelt imposed the Economy Act of 1933 which cut veterans disability allowances by 25%. In the effort to cut federal expenses, veterans were viewed as having inordinate special status over civilians. During the 1932 election campaign, he had publicly proclaimed: "No one [merely] because he wore a uniform must therefore be placed in a special class of beneficiaries over and above all other citizens."

More on this :

The Bonus Army, by Jeff Elkins

FOIA FBI Documents on the "Bonus March"

This one - by Malcolm Cowley - seems significant : Here are further writings, statements, and so one from the time of the Bonus March. :

"A few weeks later there was more talk of revolution when the Bonus Expeditionary Force descended on Washington. The BEF was a tattered army consisting of veterans from every state in the Union; most of them were old-stock Americans from smaller industrial cities where relief had broken down. All unemployed in 1932, all living on the edge of hunger, they remembered that the government had made them a promise for the future. It was embodied in a law that Congress had passed some years before, providing "adjusted compensation certificates" for those who had served in the Great War; the certificates were to be redeemed in dollars, but not until 1945. Now the veterans were hitchhiking and stealing rides on freight cars to Washington, for the sole purpose, they declared, of petitioning Congress for immediate payment of the soldiers' bonus. They arrived by hundreds or thousands every day in June. Ten thousand were camped on marshy ground across the Anacostia River, and ten thousand others occupied a number of half-demolished buildings between the Capitol and the White House. They organized themselves by states and companies and chose a commander named Walter W. Waters, an ex-sergeant from Portland. Oregon, who promptly acquired an aide-de-camp and a pair of highly polished leather puttees. Meanwhile the veterans were listening to speakers of all political complexions, as the Russian soldiers had done in 1917. Many radicals and some conservatives thought that the Bonus Army was creating a revolutionary situation of an almost classical type."

Here is some more specific info on the coup attempt - which I actually first heard of, I now remember, in an upper level university history class :

"** Big Business plots to overthrow Roosevelt

In the summer of 1933, shortly after Roosevelt's "First 100 Days," America's richest businessmen were in a panic. It was clear that Roosevelt intended to conduct a massive redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor. Roosevelt had to be stopped at all costs.

The answer was a military coup. It was to be secretly financed and organized by leading officers of the Morgan and Du Pont empires. This included some of America's richest and most famous names of the time:

* Irenee Du Pont - Right-wing chemical industrialist, founder, American Liberty League, assigned to execute plot.
* Grayson Murphy - Director of Goodyear, Bethlehem Steel and a group of J.P. Morgan banks.
* William Doyle - Former state commander of the American Legion and a central plotter of the coup.
* John Davis - Former Democratic presidential candidate and a senior attorney for J.P. Morgan.
* Al Smith - Roosevelt's political foe, former governor New York, codirector of the American Liberty League.
* John J. Raskob* - A high-ranking Du Pont officer and a former chairman of the Democratic Party.
* Robert Clark - One of Wall Street's richest bankers and stockbrokers.
* Gerald MacGuire - Bond salesman for Clark, former commander of the Connecticut American Legion.

*In later decades, Raskob would become a "Knight of Malta," a Roman Catholic Religious Order with a high percentage of CIA spies, including CIA Directors William Casey, William Colby and John McCone.

The plotters attempted to recruit General Smedley Butler to lead the coup.

They selected him because he was a war hero who was popular with the troops. The plotters felt his good reputation was important to make the troops feel confident that they were doing the right thing by overthrowing a democratically elected president.

However, this was a mistake: Butler was popular with the troops because he identified with them. That is, he was a man of the people, not the elite.

When the plotters approached General Butler with their proposal to lead the coup, he pretended to go along with the plan at first, secretly deciding to betray it to Congress at the right moment.

What the businessmen proposed was dramatic. They wanted General Butler to deliver an ultimatum to Roosevelt. Roosevelt would pretend to become sick and incapacitated from his polio, and allow a newly created cabinet officer, a "Secretary of General Affairs," to run things in his stead. The secretary, of course, would be carrying out the orders of Wall Street. If Roosevelt refused, then General Butler would force him out with an army of 500,000 war veterans from the American Legion.

But MacGuire assured Butler the cover story would work: "You know the American people will swallow that. We have got the newspapers. We will start a campaign that the President's health is failing. Everyone can tell that by looking at him, and the dumb American people will fall for it in a second."

The DuPonts and Morgans were among the many, by the way, who helped to finance the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany and who also invested quite heavily in the rebuilding of German industry and the german war machine - and who, further, worked both sides of the fence during WW2. The Bush family was in on that too, of course.

More on this :
Corporate America was pro-fascist

"On Jan. 3, 1933, Hitler was summoned to a meeting at the home of Reinhard Shroeder, a wealthy German banker, and asked to form a government. Within a year he was proclaimed fuehrer--absolute leader. Mussolini's Fascist Party had come to power in a similar fashion 11 years earlier. Germany and Italy weren't the only countries where big corporations financed fascist and racist movements during the Depression. In the United States half a dozen corporate magnates sat on the board of the pro-Hitler America First Committee.

The Du Pont dynasty that controlled General Motors and U.S. Rubber subsidized the fascist American Liberty League. It also funded the black-hooded, Klan-like Black Legion, which bombed union halls and murdered dozens of Black people, immigrants and pro-union auto workers in the Midwest. Among the Legion's victims was the Rev. Earl Little, Malcolm X's father.

In 1934, the Du Ponts and Morgans tried to hire former Marine Gen. Smedley Butler to stage a fascist coup against the liberal Roosevelt administration. Butler told Roosevelt, and the plan fizzled. Gen. Douglas MacArthur was named in the plot. There was a Senate investigation. But it is a measure of the power of big business that no one was ever prosecuted."

"Nazis in the Attic" is useful for background on this too. (there are several parts. "flip" through them by changing the "1" in the URL to a "2", a "3", etc. ). Robert Lederman has a little to say on this as well

Clavdivs and I also had a brawl about some related issues, on Rastafari's post "Is the U.S. Like Germany of the 30's ? - on American subsidiaries in Germany who supplied the Wermacht with a large chunk of it's war material - trucks, planes, etc. The debate raged back and forth between the blue and the gray. I posted many links.
posted by troutfishing at 9:50 AM on July 29, 2004 [1 favorite]

what the fuck was wrong with Maine???

As an expatriated Mainer, I could make some cruel guesses. The actual reason, though, was loyalty to the Republican party dating back to the Civil War. Maine was, for a number of reasons, fanatically anti-slavery and gave the most soldiers (per capita) to the Union army. And the loyalty stayed even when the party's priorities completely shifted.

Also, because the state's economy was based on farming and forestry (which weren't hard hit industries outside of the Dust Bowl), Maine wasn't much more depressed than it usually was.

The catholic French Canadian immigrants in the paper and shoe mills were fervently pro-Roosevelt, but they had spotty voting records-- due to poverty, protestants running the polls and a high percentage of non-citizens. So Maine was firmly Republican until the end of the war.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:53 AM on July 29, 2004

trout-- the notion of the Bonus Army waiting for a Gold Standard carrot is what makes this hard to imagine (and there weren't close to 500,000 people in the Bonus March).

Of course, after MacArthur gassed them, Roosevelt was sworn in and had food and lots of coffee sent out to the marchers who had bothered to reassemble. And he sent Eleanor out to visit them.

As one Bonus Marcher said "Hoover sent the army. Roosevelt sent his wife."
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:01 AM on July 29, 2004

Seriously, how could a guy named Smedley ever become President of this country, coup or election!
posted by billsaysthis at 10:21 AM on July 29, 2004

Curley - well, there's a good reason for the Gold Standard component of the plot : the financiers were bankers and industrialists who had - essentially - planned for war by financing Hitler and the rebuilding of the German industrial, armaments, and pharmaceutical industries (augmented by a heavy infusion of American owned industrial subsidiaries).

The Gold Standard seems remote today - it wasn't at the time. [ "What Was the Gold Standard?" ] Roosevelt had just yanked the U.S. banking system off the standard - a radical move - and many financial interests were surely a bit annoyed.

With a reimposed Gold Standard, well.....war tends to be good at driving up commodity prices. I could be misinterpreting the mechanism here, but the issue - I can guarantee - was not considered trivial or the least bit wacky at the time. To think of it in that sense is to paint the past with the brush of the present.

But that wasn't exactly your point - you're assuming that the conflation of the unpaid veteran's bonus with the Gold Standard issue would not fly. Why not ? The U.S. financial system had been through a major shakedown and I've no doubt those vets would have rather been paid in gold rather than in at least vaguely shaky U.S. government notes.

As for the "500,000" number - the material I posted in my last comment cited the "Bonus March" numbers at around 20,000 - give or take a few.

But - if you'll look at the material below - the plotters were not expecting to simply snap their fingers, by way of Butler as a figurehead, and have a half a million veterans descend on Washington.

No - per the material cited below - they were planning to lay out hard, cold cash to build a proto-fascist army with which to gain power - in a similar fashion as Hitler and Mussolini (whom the plotters had previously funded) had gained power.

So why wouldn't it have worked ( from the financier's perspectives ) ? - Similar approaches worked marvelously well in Germany and Italy.

"He was later to report to Butler that he was on a ``fact-finding'' mission to study the relationship of soldiers to fascist mass movements. He was looking for something that would work in the United States. "


More on the history of the coup attempt (I'd have to retract the "alleged" characterization at this point) :

Google search : Roosevelt, plot, Butler [ also, a Google search on "The Plot to Seize the White House" is very fruitful )

The Plot to Seize the White House (a review of the book : "Secret executive hearings of CUAA opened November 20, 1934. Sworn testimony showed that the plotters represented notable families --Rockefeller, Mellon, Pew, Pitcairn, Hutton; and great enterprises-- Morgan, Dupont, Remington, Anaconda, Bethlehem, Goodyear, GMC, Swift, Sun.... Some people named as plotters laughed, all denied everything.

"The reader who wishes to examine the official testimony is referred to the government report, `Investigation of Nazi Propaganda Activities and Investigation of Certain Other Propaganda Activities: Public Hearings Before the Special Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Seventy-third Congress, Second Session, at Washington, DC, December 29, 1934. Hearings No. 73-D.C.-6, Part 1.' Extracts of the censored testimony are revealed in the books A MAN IN HIS TIME, by John L. Spivak [NY: Horizon Press, 1967], and ONE THOUSAND AMERICANS, by George Seldes [NY: Boni & Gaer, 1947]" (p 140)."

From "The White House Putsch" : "Few Americans know it, but during the Great Depression, a cabal of millionaire bankers and industrialists hatched a conspiracy to hijack the U.S. government and install a fascist dictatorship. It was, in the words of contemporary journalist John L. Spivak, "one of the most fantastic plots in American history."

Spivak's assessment in his 1967, A Man in His Time, certainly continues to hold true sixty years after the fact: "What was behind the plot was shrouded in a silence which has not been broken to this day. Even a generation later, those who are still alive and know all the facts have kept their silence so well that the conspiracy is not even a footnote in American histories."

Although a congressional committee confirmed the allegations, the findings were hushed up amid murmurs of a coverup. No wonder. The plotters were brand-name American finaciers in the Morgan and Du Pont commercial empires, right-wingers bitterly opposed to Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal and the president's sympathies toward organized labor.

........Mysteriously, though, the congressional probe expired with a whimper. The McCormack-Dickstein Committee released heavily edited excerpts from Butler's testimony but claimed it had uncovered "no evidence" other than "hearsay" linking prominent Americans to a fascist plot.

Had the committee backed down rather than take on a klatch of power-drunk millionaires? Did high-ranking Democrats - possibly one in the White House, as some reports had it - put the kibosh on the investigation for similar reasons, or to stave off political embarrassment, or to protect Democratic muckamucks who were in on the scheme?

All of the above would seem likely, for in fact the McCormack-Dickstein Committee's public report was utterly contradicted by its internal summation to the House. That document might have been lost to history had Spivak not somehow managed to liberate a copy. Contrary to the public whitewash, privately the committee acknowledged Butler's accuracy and MacGuire's lying. The report concluded:

In the last few weeks of the committee's life it received evidence showing that certain persons had made an attempt to establish a fascist organization in this country….

There is no question that these attempts were discussed, were planned, and might have been placed in execution when and if the financial backers deemed it expedient….

MacGuire denied [Butler's] allegations under oath, but your committee was able to verify all the pertinent statements made to General Butler, with the exception of the direct statement suggesting the creation of the organization. This, however, was corroborated in the correspondence of MacGuire with his principal, Robert Sterling Clark, of New York City, while MacGuire was abroad studying the various form of veterans' organizations of Fascist character.

Alas, as is so often the case, when truth finally emerged it was greeted as yesterday's news - or worse, as last year's outmoded fashion, which clashed with the committee's public dismissal of the charges. Spivak's reporting appeared in a small left-wing publication where it went largely unnoticed. After all, Time magazine - hardly what you would call antagonistic toward right-wing industrialists - had already dismissed the allegations as a joke.

"The fighting Quaker" went on national radio to denounce the committee's deletions of key points in his testimony, but history's loaded die had already been cast...."


Here is one writeup from the first 10 hits. It's part of a 2-part series published in 1994 in
"The American Almanac" ( A LaRoucheite rag, but there's wealth of specific alleged facts mentioned in the piece ) :

"Part 1 of this article was printed in American Almanac, Vol. 8, No. 23, of June 27, 1994. Part 2 was printed in Vol. 8, No. 24, of July 4, 1994.

Despite the presence of Morgan agents in his cabinet and among his advisers, Roosevelt remained in control of policy and, from the standpoint of Wall Street, highly unpredictable.

On Nov. 16, 1933, Roosevelt recognized the Soviet Union, the first Western leader to do so. The bankers' press screamed of a potentially dangerous ``new Rapallo'' agreement with the Soviets. The fear was that if America broke Russia's isolation, British geopolitical aims, which included the unleashing of a war between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, might be subverted.

Six weeks later, Roosevelt announced that he would never again send American troops to Ibero-America to violate the sovereignty of nations to protect the bankers' investments.

The bankers' cabal began now to consider more drastic action to deal with their Roosevelt problem.

The keynote for what was intended was struck by none other than Morgan partner Thomas Lamont, who chose an address before the Foreign Policy Association, to heap praise on Mussolini and his methods, stating that fascism, as economic and political policy, works.

``We count ourselves liberal, I suppose,'' he told the FPA. ``Are we liberal enough to be willing for the Italian people to have the sort of government they apparently want?'' asked Lamont.

Fascism or some variant of it, he said, was not to be ruled out as policy for the United States.

On Dec. 1, 1933, MacGuire left with his family for an extended trip to Europe. He stayed more than seven months, spending time in France, Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, London and Scotland, Holland, and, according to one report, Russia. He was later to report to Butler that he was on a ``fact-finding'' mission to study the relationship of soldiers to fascist mass movements. He was looking for something that would work in the United States.

MacGuire, in order to impress Butler with the powers that were backing his efforts to establish a fascist superorganization, stated that while in Paris, he worked directly from the offices of Morgan and Hodges. MacGuire may have indeed established contacts with various fascist organizations, and found the structure of the Masonic-led ``secret conspiracy'' of the French Croix du Feu (Fiery Cross) as a useful metaphor for the type of organization to be created in the United States. But those behind the bond salesman and manipulator MacGuire certainly did not need to learn how to create fascist ``mass'' movements, of either the left or right. They had been doing so for years.

MacGuire had gone to Europe, under Morgan instructions, and with the blessings of the cabal of U.S. British assets that included...... " ( a rather extensive list of assets follows )
posted by troutfishing at 10:43 AM on July 29, 2004 [2 favorites]

Wowser. Good work, troutfishing!

So, yeah, I accept that a few bankers hatched a plot to overthrow the government, but the whole plan was less than half baked and would never have worked.

But the truly important detail is this: They tried. That should scare the shit out of all of us: corporate bosses tried to overthrow our democratically-elected government.

That is really fucking scary, folks.

What makes you think they wouldn't do it again?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:46 AM on July 29, 2004

What makes you think they really did it the first time? "An army of 500,000 vets" ready to march on Roosevelt?! RRRRright...

Take a timeout from your "I'm shocked! Shocked, I say!" commenting... Did it never occur to you to look around you right now - it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the "corporate bosses" already have control of our "demagogically elected" government, and that any more direct control would be too much hassle, since they're already getting anything they want without all that work?
posted by JollyWanker at 10:59 AM on July 29, 2004

I love troutfishing (the MeFi user, not the outdoors activity)
posted by matteo at 11:16 AM on July 29, 2004

No, I'm with troutfishing and fff-- it's harrowing. And it's a neglected piece of history. But the post and the link are sensationalist.

Trout's excellent documentation has demonstrated that no matter how stupid the plan was (and really, the Red Skull himself couldn't have pulled it off) a lot of effort was made to execute it.

But to expand on the point that Jolly Wanker's made-- industrialists cozying up to fascists was unique for the time. Fascism's militaristic bent ensures that lots of money gets diverted to manufacturing and the owners of the huge conglomerates wnated in on that action. The motivation was profit, not ideology. If communist governments (paradoxically, but stay with me) were willing to invite American corporations to help them manufacture, industrialists would have been cozying up to communists

The present system of corporate ownership of government is really an extension of a tactic that corporations had been trying since the 19th century-- influencing obstensibly democratic legislation. They just got better at it after the progressive period passed and they could step back to see what mistakes they made. Advances in psychology to influence public opinion and more money flowing to legislators is what made that possible.

In summary-- american industrialists cozying up to fascists was an ugly trend, but it ended up accomplishing little. Our current woes are due to refinements in a pre-existing system. The true ideology of corporations is really the same as a cancer cell-- growth for the sake of growth.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:54 AM on July 29, 2004

Oh, meant to add--

troutfishing, my reference to the "golden carrot" was saying that it was a reward that would have been rejected.

The Bonus Army wanted to be paid their bonus right then, and din't care if it was in gold or backless currency. These were desperate men. The plotters rationale of "they'll want gold when we pay them in 1945" would have been answered with "1945? We're hungry NOW!" And like I said, the Bonus Army never even amounted to 80,000 people and was much smaller after MacArthur dispersed them.

Granted, Roosevelt didn't want to pay them immediately any more than Hoover did, but for different reasons-- he didn't want any group to get more assistance than any other in the interest of fairness. They got their bonus in 1936 after the bill finally passed in the senate. Roosevelt vetoed it, but it passed anyway.
posted by Mayor Curley at 12:04 PM on July 29, 2004

Curley - "The motivation was profit, not ideology." - I mostly agree [ Except in the case of Henry Ford - who was a dyed in the wool anti-semite. ] with your overall point for the simple fact that - for the very rich - ideology is quite unecessary, as are many of the rules which govern lesser folk.

This was true in Germany as well - Fritz Thyssen, a key early financier of Hitler and the owner of the vast Thysson industrial group which was responsible for some 20 to 30 percent of Gemany's heavy industrial output during WW2 (pig iron, steel, coal perhaps - that sort of stuff. GM and Ford built the actual trucks and GM's Opel subsidiary made warplanes too) actually trusted Hitler little : Thyssen had been burned by the Kaiser during WW1 - seizure of assets or nationalization of his plants (something along those lines) and resolved that during WW2 it wasn't going to happen again. So, the elder Thyssen married his sons off to foreigners and so set up a quite elaborate money laundering scheme of which Prescott Bush and Allen Dulles played - on the US end - significant roles. Dulles, ironically - for the arch spook he later became, wasn't especially good at hiding the money trail and Union Bank was busted by the Roosevelt Adminstration, under the "Trading with The Enemies Act", in 1942. After WW2, the Thyssen Group [as the occupying allies cast a nervous eye towrds Moscow (egged on, of course, by the inflated assesment of Reinhard Gehlen and his agents, many former SS turned to a new paymaster - the OSS - of Soviet military strength] was reconstituted and George W. Bush's grandfather recieved a lump sum payment from the Thyssen group for a tidy U.S. $750,000 (his share in Union Bank). But I'm running off the track.

[ I just read about my little "behavior" in a Reader's Digest article about how to make a GREAT impression on people in the first 30 seconds. Hint - it's not by lecturing. That's termed - said the article - "Male lecturing behavior". How to make a great impression (American cultural rules, that is) ? 0) Smile - even if you feel like shit 1) Eye contact 1/2-2/3 of the time. Never more. 2) Ask a few questions but not too many. Show genuine interest in the other person. 3) Divulge a little personal info but not too much 4) Relax and be yourself. 5) Lean forward slightly - but not too much unless you're in a "hotter" culture ( Spanish, Italian.... )

So - in that vein - I would have liked a chance to chat with you at that Boston meetup. You seemed intersting. Another time, I hope. Also, my ears periodically fill up with flaky skin. I've come to accept it. Anyway.... ]

Have corporations walked away from Fascism ? After all, they were crucial in creating it : most of the key elements for German fascism - corporate financing, American style propaganda and advertising, Eugenics - came from American. There were also key, pre-existing German cultural factors, yes - such as, perhaps, those identified by Peter Loewenberg in his groundbreaking "The Psychohistorical Origins of the Nazi Youth Cohort".

But let me ask this : what is key to fascism if not the malevolent intersection of corporate and state power so painfully evident - and more so, it seems, with each passing year - in the United States ?

Have corporations walked away from fascism or have they refined it and dressed the iron fist in a velvet glove ? Businesspeople are above all (most of them, anyway) pragmatists. They want solutions, and the nearly unbridled power we see in the intersection of corporate and state institutions - facillitated by a servile Fourth Estate - offers those.

The solutions are often myopic or half baked for the fact, though, that many of them come from people less thoughtful or at least far more ignorant (in the relevant areas) than average Metafilter commentators - exposure to ideas, information and knowledge is important and the main danger I see - in the amplification of the input highly empowered, very rich corporate and business elites now exert on American public policy making lies in their enhanced ability to cover initial mistakes, misapprehensions and misjudgements - through adroit PR - as they run the nation and the World into the ground, down into an ungodly, awful mess which the rest of us will be forced one day to clean up.

Just saying.
posted by troutfishing at 2:36 PM on July 29, 2004

five fresh fish: "What makes you think they wouldn't do it again?"

What makes anyone think they haven't already, albeit sub rosa?

"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism,
because it is a merger of State and corporate power." --Benito Mussolini

Sounds like the America of today -- and the last 40 years at least, forbid anyone think I'm indulging in mere Bushco bashing.
posted by oncogenesis at 5:14 PM on July 29, 2004

That should scare the shit out of all of us: corporate bosses tried to overthrow our democratically-elected government. That is really fucking scary, folks.

Yes, it frightens me that that buffoons and crackpots can rise to corporate positions of power. IQ tests and psych profiles should be immediately administered to all executives, and the stocks of companies found employing them should be shorted forthwith.
posted by kindall at 6:25 PM on July 29, 2004

kindall - but, can't one be at the same time a crackpot, a buffoon, and a highly effective corporate head ?

It's all about area of expertise - and we're all crackpots and buffoons in our turn.

But, I become concerned when businesspeople - or people of any walk of life, really - who espouse social and scientific theories and notions which were proven to be invalid decades, centuries, or even millennia ago exert notable influence in the corridors of public power.

Kookiness is relative, and relative kookiness has it's place as well.

Far from public policy.
posted by troutfishing at 8:21 PM on July 29, 2004

Clavdivs and I also had a brawl about some related issues, on Rastafari's post "Is the U.S. Like Germany of the 30's ? - on American subsidiaries in Germany who supplied the Wermacht with a large chunk of it's war material - trucks, planes, etc.

"As for Roosevelt, the Sphinx still keeps his secrets. That supreme politician held all of the forces of collusion and betrayal in balance, publicly praising those executives whom he knew to be questionable. Before Pearl Harbor, he allowed such egregious executives as James D. Mooney of General Motors and William Rhodes Davis of the Davis Oil Company to enjoy pleasant tete-a-tetes with Hitler and Goring, while maintaining a careful record of what they were doing. During the war, J. Edgar Hoover, Adolf A. Berle, Henry Morgenthau, and Harold Ickes kept the President fully advised of all internal and external transgressions. With great skill, he never let the executives concerned know that he was on to them. By using the corporate leaders for his own war purposes as dollar-a-year men, keeping an eye on them and allowing them to indulge, under license or not, in their international tradings, he at once made winning the war a certainty and kept the public from knowing what it should not know".
p xvii

Some interesting stuff, cannot recall if this link was bandied or not. I read the book, it has some good baseline work, most dubious at best.

heard of the General. As to proving a take over...through in the attempted assassination of FDR and you have a book, a movie even. The bonus marchers were something, echoes of General Lee at Harpers Ferry.
(I'm watching the tail-end of Mr. kerrys speech and Bonoesque pan-shot close up convention thingie)
1939, early, most americans, if asked, did not think war would come to Europe, despite the Hitlers gains.

"A logical deduction I would be that not to have done so would have involved public disclosure: the procedure of legally disconnecting these alliances under the antitrust laws would have resulted in a public scandal that would have drastically affected public morale, caused widespread strikes, and perhaps provoked mutinies in the armed services."

Interesting you mention Raskob, He wanted Durant out. Durant was neutral, basically anti-war for the two big ones. Almost most americans, opinions changed after Dec. 7 1941.

Think about it The brits knew about some of this, it is the cost of illusion. After 1939, FDR needed time and keeping the germans thinking your still neutral plus you get there gold and not credits. I still posit you portray american involvement in this as americans building like the entire airplane or StG III self-propelled gun. (did i negate myself in german there...)

interesting you mention
; interesting that ADM. Canaris (sic sp) tipped off the dutch and other juicy tid bits. Gotta admit, he is like some scion of turncoats.

"Gentlemen," he said, "you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for I have not only grown gray but almost blind in the service of my country."

I would like to think we were better then that. Americans don't like it when people seize something without the air of proproity and law. Like in the 2000 election and i say that to piss off the rest of yas'.

nice work though trout, nice paragraphs.
posted by clavdivs at 8:26 PM on July 29, 2004

we stole fair and square so get over it.
posted by clavdivs at 8:27 PM on July 29, 2004

nice work, clavdivs. You should be educating us more often. When you pull your shit together, man, you're really great!
posted by five fresh fish at 9:34 PM on July 29, 2004

clavdivs - another choice quote : "As for Roosevelt, the Sphinx still keeps his secrets. That supreme politician held all of the forces of collusion and betrayal in balance, publicly praising those executives whom he knew to be questionable" - I was hoping you'd show up. I hope you've been well ? (seriously). That's a hell of a quote, and a great addition.

But- back to Roosevelt : "With great skill, he never let the executives concerned know that he was on to them. By using" - everything I've read (too little though) underlines your point - games within games. But, I bet they knew - or suspected - quite a bit (my speculation).

However, this is surely true : "the procedure of legally disconnecting these alliances under the antitrust laws would have resulted in a public scandal that would have drastically affected public morale" : everyone but the general American public was - in some sense or other - complicit.

Meanwhile, on your note :

"I still posit you portray american involvement in this as americans building like the entire airplane or StG III self-propelled gun." - OK, the Germans played a small role, I'd admit (all sarcasm intended), but I think the historical denial of the US corporate role demands a little underlining.

I know this isn't exactly your taste (too speculative probably) but have you ever read that Peter Loewenberg piece, "The Psychohistorical Origins of the Nazi Youth Cohort" ? [ I've mentioned it a few times before ] - it emphasizes, in a sense, your point. The Nazis were quite enthusiastic, yes.

I wouldn't want to exculpate the Nazis whilst I was outing US corporate complicity (or U.S. Gov. knowledge and tacit toleration of that complicity) - as Hillary Clinton was once fond of saying, "It takes a village".


Here's some further resources I ran across :

U.S. history of the 1930's

Also, a free online edition of Howard Zinn's "People's History of the United States" ( 1980 editition - "flip" the chapters by varying the number after "zinn", so - "zinn2.html", etc : up to 20 or 22. I didn't actually find material in it for this thread, but it's still - ideology aside - useful. Zinn works hard to keep his facts straight. )

But that's only my opinion. As I wrote in another thread today, adapted for this one : "I am not a trained historian or even an historian at all. I don't have a PhD or a college degree. I do, however, have a GED. [ acronym : "IANATHOEAHAAIDEHAPOACDIDHHAGED" ] I have had, though, lots of trained historians as friends - and they think I am thoroughly nuts.

Best, trout
posted by troutfishing at 9:42 PM on July 29, 2004

Also - I suspect, as one in perhaps a similar or analogous state, that there's a book or three brewing in you. But, then, you'd have to come out of anonymity. Or not - but the rewards are greater for those who have public faces.
posted by troutfishing at 9:47 PM on July 29, 2004

Except - of course - for those plotting secret fascist plots. If I were to plot you on a map, I'd guess you'd be anywhere but there. Still, appearances are only that, so.....

Don't watch too much of the Democratic Convention.

( I would do so myself - if only I had a TV handy )
posted by troutfishing at 10:20 PM on July 29, 2004

Good stuff from all y'all. Do any of you guys listen to Dave Emory's show, For the Record?
posted by euphorb at 11:15 PM on July 29, 2004

euphorb - Thanks : no, but I'll give it a listen.
posted by troutfishing at 11:20 PM on July 29, 2004

Except - of course - for those plotting secret fascist plots. If I were to plot you on a map, I'd guess you'd be anywhere but there. Still, appearances are only that, so.....

Don't watch too much of the Democratic Convention.

( I would do so myself if only I had a TV handy )
posted by troutfishing at 12:42 AM on July 30, 2004

I wasn't even born in 1934.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 1:27 AM on July 30, 2004

I was born as Kennedy died.
posted by troutfishing at 9:51 AM on July 30, 2004

I'll edit your books. If you want to self-publish PDFs, I have a reStructured Text workflow that is superb, and will let you use the same source for plaintext email, PDF, and HTML. It completely separates presentation from content, so you can focus on the writing instead of farting with fonts.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:11 PM on July 30, 2004

( I would do so myself - if only I had a TV handy )
posted by troutfishing at 10:20 PM PST on July 29

( I would do so myself if only I had a TV handy )
posted by troutfishing at 12:42 AM PST on July 30

now thats just weird.
posted by clavdivs at 9:32 PM on July 30, 2004

clavdivs - probably not though - it was late at night. I'll bet I just double posted. (but, I still don't have a TV )
posted by troutfishing at 12:03 AM on July 31, 2004

(having no TV should be a tax deduction, like brits and their dam telly-tax)
posted by clavdivs at 8:34 PM on August 1, 2004

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