You Can’t Do That!: The Fascist Pattern—Men, Guns, & Money
“If we ever lose our liberties to a Fascist movement, led by the imposters of patriotism, it will be because in addition to men they also have guns.”
George Seldes, You Can’t Do That: A Survey of the Forces Attempting, in the Name of Patriotism, to Make a Desert of the Bill of Rights, New York: Modern Age Books, 1938. 185-215 (Excerpts).
Part Three: The Pre-Fascist Pattern in America
Chapter 16. The Facist Pattern: Men
We don’t want to fight.
But, by jingo, if we do,
We’ve got the men,
We’ve got the guns,
We’ve got the money, too.
The Fascist plot which General Butler exposed did not get very far, because he recognized treason when he saw it. But that plot had in it the three elements which make successful wars and revolutions: men, guns and money. The next plot will require the same three elements.
It is therefore my purpose in this and the next two chapters to discuss the Fascist — or perhaps better still, the Pre-Fascist — pattern in America, from this triple viewpoint.
I will not devote much space to the spectrum of Shirts, the Brown, Black, Blue, White, Gray, Khaki, the dirty shirts and the bloodstained shirts, frequently visible in America. None of these Fascist organizations has obtained a membership of millions, as the Ku Klux Klan did a decade ago. That they are dangerous everyone admits. The Klan was able to use terrorism because of its great strength in certain sections, but it was an unarmed association, whereas Fascist organizations are always a minority but sufficiently armed to enforce their will upon an unarmed majority. Nor have the terroristic Shirt organizations in America received the big financial support of the ruling powers, a sine que non of Fascist dictatorship.
The noted Italian historian Ferrero, writing objectively in a time of freedom (i.e., before 1925), summarized the reasons for the success of Fascism in Italy. Of his twelve points several apply specifically to the Italian scene; others are universal, as the upheaval in Germany has illustrated.
First of all, he mentions the outraged feelings of the “patriots” when the masses brutally showed their hatred for war, indiscriminately cursing the defenders of the country and the war profiteers. The second point is more important: “the terror with which the rich perceived the threat to their property.” This is the universal fulcrum of the Fascist lever. But the propertied class, powerful as it is politically, is not numerically superior, and Fascism, like all national movements, must have popular support. This support in Italy, as later in Germany, came from the vast middle class which Ferrero said was impoverished by the depreciation of money and which hated the workers and peasants who, it claimed, had become enriched during the war.
“Loss of faith in the old leaders,” Ferrero’s eighth point, can also be applied internationally. In Italy there was of course also a hunger for conquest, “the fear of the epileptic seizures of universal suffrage,” “bourgeois pride offended by the insolence of the lower class revolt,” “the rehabilitation of all the German doctrines and ambitions which had been most universally denounced during the war,” the stirring of the principle of authority, and finally the new war-wealthy class “rendered ferocious” by fear of losing its profits.
The United States, unlike Italy, Germany and Japan, is not suffering from nationalistic claustrophobia; our imperialistic adventures in a few islands and in Central and South America have not been successful enough to encourage further penetration, and neither the international bankers nor international manufacturers seem to be driving the government forward, as they so obviously do in imperialistic countries, toward conquest by peaceful penetration, armed intimidation, and finally by war. That Fascism means war is soon to be recognized as an axiom. Fascism is a method of preparing a nation for imperialistic adventures which have in the past and will in the future include wholesale slaughter as one of its means.
Fascism, as Italy and Germany have illustrated, can arise only in time of national distress when the masses demand leadership and better times. In these circumstances usually two opposite ideologies arise. In Germany and Italy, the exponents of the Marxian principles were divided into many groups, their preachments were largely philosophical, and the masses were tired of Marxian dialectics. On the other hand, the “philosophy” of the authoritarian state, whatever it may be, was not handed down to the masses in the words of Pareto, but became the purest demagoguery of superpatriotism.
The three important requirements for Fascist success have been, and will be in America: (a) financial subsidization of the movement by the moneyed classes; (b) affiliation with, or creation of, an armed force to impose the dictatorship upon the indifferent masses and the intelligent opponents; and (c) the right demagogue.
Fascism is the imposed dictatorship of the ruling class utilizing armed force to preserve the social-economic system wherever it is collapsing. The destruction of democracy — “that bourgeois illusion” — the suppression of all civil liberties, the destruction of the trade unions and the intellectuals, the glorification of the State — these are the natural results of the coming into power of a regime whose one purpose is the salvation of the profit system and whose hired leaders are superpatriots, demagogues, militarists, political racketeers, and fanatics. Fascism has no place for the intelligent. It claims a planned economy; what it succeeds in enforcing is planned thinking — and that on the lowest plane. Gleichschaltung in Germany and Totalitarianism in Italy and their equivalents in other Fascist states demand the mental as well as the social destruction of the individual.
For Americans there arises the question: are our superpatriots, our duces and fuehrers of the financial-industrial empire which has grown within the walls of the Jeffersonian democracy, ready to break all safeguards of our old liberties in order to preserve their private interests? Are they ready for the militarism, the bloodshed, and the warfare which are inherent in Fascism?
They themselves say No. Super-industrialists like Hearst, the Du Fonts, Sloan, Gifford, Swope, Schwab, Raskob, Grace, will probably tell you that they are as opposed to Fascism as to Communism. Moreover, a vote of popular opinion taken by the reliable Gallup service brings out the astonishing fact that the majority of the American people, i.e., the Republican and Democratic Party voters, wholeheartedly believe that they are liberals, not conservatives.
There are, however, men and organizations which frankly endorse Fascism, as well as perhaps even more fascistic men and organizations who openly denounce the movement, who perhaps sincerely believe they are fighting it, but who are really the forerunners and potential leaders of Fascism in America.
In 1923, Commander-in-Chief Alvin Owsley of the American Legion not only endorsed Mussolini and Fascism, but announced his readiness to do what the Duce did, that is, upset the democratic form of government, establish a reign of terror, maintain a dictatorship where the masses of people are deprived of all civil rights.
“If ever needed,” he said, “the American Legion stands ready to protect our country’s institutions and ideals as the Fascisti dealt with the destructionists who menaced Italy.”
Asked whether that meant taking over the government, he replied:
“Exactly that. The American Legion is fighting every element that threatens our democratic government — Soviets, anarchists, I.W.W., revolutionary socialists and every other ‘red.’ … Do not forget that the Fascisti are to Italy what the American Legion is to the United States.”
This last statement has been borne out hundreds of times when American labor has sought to exercise its constitutional rights.
(“I’ve never known one leader of the American Legion who has never sold them out — and I mean it,” says General Butler.)
Succeeding commanders of the Legion have never so openly declared for Fascism, but several have been as reactionary, and the majority have invited Mussolini to attend their annual conventions.
William Randolph Hearst, in his official editorials, has at times linked Fascism with Communism and other Isms which he opposes, but beyond such a statement he has never attacked Fascism. In fact he has spent thousands of dollars buying the views and opinions of Mussolini. He is considered the leading Fascist in America, and the most powerful. He has actually endorsed both Mussolini and Hitler…
The House of Morgan has helped Fascism by the national loan of $100,000,000 and many other loans, made at a time (1925) economists were already pointing out the fraud in the officially declared “balanced” Italian budget…
Among the great American industrialists (and employers of secret spies, illegal police, and gangsters or pre-Fascist militia in American labor disputes) the first to announce for Mussolini was none other than the then head of the United States Steel Corporation. Overcome with the beauties of peaceful Italy where strikes are outlawed, where labor knows its place (which is as near serfdom as anything we know of in this century), and where the standard of living of the people reached the lowest point in modern history, Judge Gary declared: “I feel like turning to my American friends and asking them whether they don’t think we too need a man like Mussolini.”
One of his American friends, a senator from Pennsylvania, a state whose senators for decades had been known as the errand boys of the steel corporation, echoed the words. “What this country needs is a Mussolini,” said Senator David A. Reed to his colleagues on one occasion; and on another, “Signor Mussolini has given Italy a particularly strong and stable government; he has restored order where once chaos ruled; he has increased productive capacity of Italy and conferred happiness upon all classes, high and low, the rich and the poor.” Senator Reed was not re-elected…
In the course of years I have culled the following nosegay from the beautiful pro-Fascist gardens: Isaac L. Marcosson, who approved Mussolini’s turning “red terror into white fear”; Irvin S. Cobb, who bowed low and linked Mussolini with great Theodore Roosevelt; Kenneth L. Roberts, who wrote that “Mussolini’s dictatorship is a good dictatorship”; S. S. McClure, who thought the Italians “feel they are the only free people in the world”; Ex-Governor Curley of Massachusetts, who declared, drinking a toast, that the Duce “in saving Italy made possible the preservation of Christian civilization”, George J. Ryan, ex-president of the New York Board of Education, who regretted that “many things that are beneficial in Italy” could not be adopted in New York; Thomas J. Watson, president of the International Business Machine Corporation, who told the American Society of Italian Orders (he himself wears a Fascist decoration) that Mussolini has “improved conditions of the masses.”
There is also Charles E. Sorensen, general manager of the Ford Motor company who, returning on a German ship, told the reporters that Germany was “in marvelous shape and looks prosperous everywhere” (at a time when the objective journalists were writing about increased misery). And there is Charles M. Schwab, who was described as “full of praise for conditions in Germany under the Hitler regime.”
And, of course, there is Al Capone, who is for Fascism.
The list of individual names is very long. I have given only a few samples of various kinds. What they do show is that the same classes which support Nazism in Germany, Fascism in Italy, and Franco in Spain are represented by the men who endorse these movements in America. Certain commercial writers, the big money bags, big business, the heavy industrialists, the employers, the landowners, the wearers of foreign decorations, here and there a smart crook, now and again a clever opportunist, are joined in favor of systems or ideologies which are the very antithesis of that created by the founders of the American republic.
It is significant that very few of the important powerful men who have declared for Fascism have been willing to let themselves be quoted as favoring that system for the United States. It is not probable that they will ever do so. The astute politician and potential Fascist ruler, Huey Long, settled that question when he said that “Fascism in America will arrive on* an anti-Fascist platform.”
The men I have quoted are very few. But they represent a considerable Fascist mentality. The real enemies of the nation’s democratic institutions today are the Fascist-minded men with the “ability and willingness to turn the concentrated wealth of America against the welfare of America…”
Chapter 17. The Fascist Pattern: Guns
IF WE ever lose our liberties to a Fascist movement, led by the imposters of patriotism, it will be because in addition to men they also have guns. The Fascist pattern everywhere calls for either a conspiracy within the regular army, or the assured neutrality of the army, or the march of a private force recruited from veterans of the World War.
When Mussolini “marched” on Rome, General Badoglio told the King to give him a machine gun and a half regiment of regulars and he would send the brave boys, most of whom were armed with sticks, scurrying back to their home towns. But there were generals in command who were opposed to opposing the Fascisti, and the King was afraid to shed blood. So the Fascists were allowed to “conquer” Rome. (The bloodshed took place later, by Mussolini’s orders.) And something of a similar nature took place before Hitler was able to dictate to Germany. In Spain, in 1936, the Fascist- Royalist-Catholic insurrection was entirely an army affair.
So, in the United States, where there is no considerable army, the Fascisti will have to look not only to the army and the navy, but also to forces outside those: the national guards; private forces such as the late Coal and Iron Police of Pennsylvania; the American Legion; a new force, a sort of militarized Ku Klux Klan or Black Legion, still uncreated.
What about the regular forces?…
Until recently, when I publicly accused the War Department of issuing orders to shoot to kill in labor troubles, the Superintendent of Documents, Washington, D. C., had furnished the documentary evidence of my charges in the “Basic Field Manual, Vol. VII, Part Three, Domestic Disturbances,” price ten cents, in coin, sent in by any citizen.
“Domestic disturbances” is the magnificent euphemism the War Department uses in its official instructions to the forces of law and order on the use of violence against labor in America. It is quite true that General MacArthur illustrates domestic disturbances with five typical examples, the first of which is “a riot in a penal institution,” the second “a mob determined upon lynching a prisoner,” but he gets down eventually to the main subject, giving examples of strikes, labor disturbances, and even picketing. Thus, on page 63 of the manual, he quotes from a report made to him “covering the use of chemical agents in a strike during 1933”:
In conclusion, wish to state that all efforts should be made when the use of gas is contemplated to supply plenty of it. It certainly has a far greater effect on civil disturbance mobs than physical force, display of weapons, or show of force. A man, in the position of the pickets and strikers we encountered…
The most important fact about this manual of instructions to federal officers is that it is also the guidebook for the national guards and militias in every state in the Union, and the handbook of the private militias of the coal and iron companies and other armed business forces throughout the country. Careful reading of this manual is a complete enlightenment on all the acts of violence and terrorism committed in the past four years by the forces of law and order (so-called) in San Francisco, in Toledo, in Ambridge, in Bridgeton, New Jersey, in Chicago, in Monroe, in Massillon, in Rhode Island, in the South, everywhere in the United States when the militia, the National Guard, the Vigilantes, the American Legion, have gone into armed action against labor.
And ironically enough, it is also the explanation of the last important use of the federal troops against “domestic disturbances.” When they attacked the veterans of the World War at Anacostia they used exactly the same methods which they now ask the American Legion to help them use against “domestic disturbances” of pickets and strikers.
The “shoot to kill” order is given on page 18 of the manual: “Blank cartridges should never be used against a mob, nor should a volley be fired over the heads of the mob even if there is little danger of hurting persons in rear. Such things will be regarded as an admission of weakness, or as an attempt to bluff, and may do much more harm than good.”
It is this official United States Government War Department order which explains the actions of the National Guard. Thus the echo of it is heard in the testimony of Brigadier General Seth E. Howard of the National Guard of California before the House Committee on the War Department bill hearing. General Howard did not include riots in penal institutions and lynchings in his defense of violence; he was honest enough to admit that this was his policy in dealing with labor. The General testified, “Troops to be effective must be armed with rifles because a pistol is no arm to place in the hands of troops with these groups of disturbers that we are confronted with in the country today. Neither are clubs. It must be with a rifle and a bayonet, cold steel…I want to advise you that today I have my troops under arms, in violation possibly of the regulations of the National Guard Bureau.”
In addition to the rifle and bayonet, cold steel. General MacArthur takes advantage of all the inventions and discoveries which a beneficent science has given to mankind. On pages 13 and 14 of his little book he lists:
“Aviation. Airplanes may be used for the purpose of keeping rioters off” roofs by means of machine gun fire and, in conjunction with other arms, by dropping tear-gas and high-explosive bombs.
“Armored cars. Armored motor cars will be especially valuable in riot duty.
“Artillery. The manner of using coast artillery in riot duty would depend upon the equipment, any special training and availability of a particular organization.
“Cavalry. Because of its mobility and the undoubted moral effect of an armed man on horseback, cavalry will always be a valuable and effective adjunct to any command employed in riot duty.
“Hand Grenades. Hand grenades, especially those filled with chemicals, will be quite an essential part of the equipment. Experience in the use of tear gas in hand grenades by the National Guard and civil police [the italics are not mine but those of the Chief of Staff] has demonstrated its practicability and efficacy in handling mobs without loss of life.
“Infantry. Infantry should and will invariably constitute the major part of any command employed in suppressing a domestic disturbance.
“Machine guns. Machine guns will be required in about the proportion now issued to an infantry regiment.
“Tanks. There will be many cases where tanks can be used to good advantage. Certainly the moral as well as the physical effect of a tank bearing down upon a mob will do much toward breaking up the mob. Tanks have been used effectively in street fighting.
“Three-inch mortars. Trench mortars are especially adapted for use in city fighting.
“37-mm. guns. Occasions may arise when the 37-mm. gun will be of value, but ordinarily it will be found that the 3-inch mortars will answer the purpose.
“Miscellaneous supplies and equipment. Shotguns, using charges of buckshot, should be issued to a section of the command. For operations in a city an extra supply of axes, picks, sledge hammers, crowbars, and rope will be of value.”
And this is exactly the wording of the War Department’s manual on how to enlist the American Legion against labor:
Page 25. Section 61. Duties of the military commander: “In his efforts to understand the situation, the commander must set out at once to gather information which should normally include the following…
“(b) Much of this information may be secured from the police department, supplemented by private detective agencies, railroad detectives…
“(3) The location of the headquarters of the American Legion and other local organizations representing law and order [sic]. The meeting places, strength attitude, etc., of the members of these organizations should be ascertained, and a conference with their commanders or leaders should be arranged…
“(6) The attitude of the public press must be learned and conferences arranged with newspaper men. …”
These are suggestions. The results were visible in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, where the attacking forces of law and order, which killed one striker and wounded others, were composed largely of Legionnaires rounded up to assist the state troopers, and in San Francisco, where the military authorities fighting labor obtained the support of the publishers in falsification or suppression of the news.
We already know that the press is unfair to labor. Now we discover that the guidebook of the armed forces of government, the militia, the state guards, and the viligante or Legion groups actually advises officers to cooperate with the newspapers everywhere when repressive actions begin.
Necessity knows no law…
Chapter 18. The Fascist Pattern: Money
“I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country…
“Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the Republic is destroyed.”
Abraham Lincoln wrote these prophetic words at a time the industrial-financial system of the United States was in its early youth, when it was conquering the West, following the gold rush, when industrial capital was about to make its great march across the continent — but at a time the crisis of 1857 gave the first warning that all might not go well forever with the economic system which had been established.
The industrial revolution, the industrial age, the economic system as we know it today, came into being almost coincidentally with the libertarian movement which produced uprisings in many countries, upset tyrants, established republics and democracies of a sort. The coincidence persists today. The Bill of Rights of the first hours of the American Republic echoed throughout Europe, and although our democracy was strongly entrenched in the 1830’s, Europe went through two decades of fighting before it calmed down and devoted itself to manufacturing, world trade, exploration, exploitation, empire building, and great money-making. Strange indeed that Lincoln should have foreseen the great crisis of the 1930’s.
As wealth became concentrated in few hands in many countries and the social-economic-libertarian ideas spread in direct proportion, the conflicts between the nations became more and more commercial, until recently it has been held that all wars are commercial wars. And when the world’s Great War ended in disillusion, when the tyrant of Russia was overthrown, when the symbol (but not the system) of commercial imperialism, the Kaiser, was destroyed in Germany, when kings were tossed aside in several countries, labor governments, socialist governments, and one communist government established in Europe, it became more and more apparent that in one respect the World War was exactly what many persons said it was, “the war to end wars.” But not in the sense in which they meant it. Not because it was the biggest war, not because it killed ten million and wounded another twenty million and sent an additional ten or twenty million to death from starvation and disease, was it to be the last of all wars. But it may well be the last of its kind, because the wars of the future may not be wars between nations but wars between classes. The threat of such a war is apparent as this page is written, when Hitler and Mussolini are aiding the Fascist class in Spain; and Russia, with the support of the socialist and labor parties of France and England, expresses her sympathy for the working class engaged in civil war.
The final, and the desperate effort of any reactionary regime to preserve the economic-financial status quo, can be called Fascism provided it acts according to the Fascist pattern — and that means, that to be Fascist it must employ violence, it must use armed force, it must if necessary impose itself through armed seizure of power and armed maintenance of power. This has been proved true elsewhere; it is the pattern for Fascism in America. The mass following is also a sine qua non, and so is a radical program by which the disinherited and dispossessed will be inveigled into following a dictator — Mussolini, you know, took seven out of Karl Marx’s ten fundamental principles in the Communist Manifesto and rewrote them for the Fascist Proclamation of March, 1919, while Hitler called his party National Socialist and still promises the socialistic reforms which most of Germany demands. And there are other imperative requirements for Fascism such as dominance by the State, which Americans still reject. But the first requirement of all is armed force for the preservation of the business or money system.
I know very well that Mussolini’s recent announcement of the nationalization of large-scale industries has been interpreted to mean that Fascism is no longer the hired armed-hand of Italian capitalism, and likewise that Germany’s men of money and steel who financed Hitler are not making as much money as they expected, because once faced by a choice either of loss of mass following through starvation or of “cracking down” on the rich industrialist profiteers, Hitler must take the latter course.
But even if it should develop that Mussolini nationalizes industry as the Russians have done (which I greatly doubt, although it would be characteristic of him since he has already betrayed every party and every idea, reactionary or radical), and even if Hitler establishes what he calls national socialism (a contradiction), it will not change the all important fact, which is, that in all instances business and finance organized or took over Fascism, made Fascism their politico-military weapon, and seized governments for themselves, for their own preservation and the exploitation of others with the aid of a Fascist (or Nazi) party and army. The dictators may not have loved their masters but they needed the masters’ money, and they always repaid by creating a police-state in which labor was the muzzled underdog.
What if the Banca Commerciale no longer finances Mussolini and dictates his actions? Or the Lega Industriale cannot keep Mussolini from interfering in its factories and the Confederazione Generale dell’ Industria and the Associazione fra Industriali Metallurgici Meccanici ed Affini feel that the dictator is forcing taxation and labor laws upon them, instead of carrying out the labor orders they have given him up to now?
It is a fact that these organizations bought and paid for “the March on Rome” in the expectation that they would be the power behind a successful dictatorship, and for more than a decade they actually were. And Hitler’s backers were analogous groups: steel, power, coal, banks. There was Krupp von Bohlen, next to Zaharoff” the greatest merchant of death; Fritz Thyssen, the steel king of Germany; F. G. von Siemens of electricity; Professor Karl Bosch of dyes; Dr. A. Voegeler, steel; A. Diehn, potash; Bochringer, steel; F. von Schroeder, banker; A. von Finck, banker; F. Reinhart, banker, and non- and anti-Fascists, including rich Jews, who risked their money on Fascism when they saw it had a chance to win. What if Thyssen is in South America and on the outs with Hitler, and some of the other original money men of Fascism feel they are not getting their money’s worth? The fact is that they made Fascism for their own preservation and financial gain.
In France, Colonel De la Rocque’s Croix de Feu is similarly financed. In place of silk in Italy and dyes in Germany, we have M. de Mun of Champagne and the House of Nicolas (wines at any price), and most important of all, M. Frangois de Wendel, merchant of death, director of the Comite des Forges, of banks, newspapers, mines, industries, and a member of the first of the two hundred families which own and control France.
It is always money and power that control Fascism.
In America we could read American Legion for Croix de Feu, d’Annunzio’s Arditi, Mussolini’s Fascisti, Hitler’s Storm Troops. In America for Francois de Wendel and Krupp we could read Du Pont, Gary, Schwab, Grace, Myron Taylor, E. T. Weir; for the Lega Industrial we have the Manufacturers Association, and for the Associazione fra Industriale the National Chamber of Commerce. The backers of Fascism everywhere are the industrialists, manufacturers, big businessmen, the bankers.
The financing is always done secretly — until the movement succeeds. In America the one organization which is best adapted for financing a reactionary armed force is the one which has already proclaimed among its principles the salvation of private profits. The American Liberty League answers the description of the subsidizers of Hitler and Mussolini. It is at the moment in decidedly stale odor, but in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere similar groups are rivals for its succession.
I have already discussed the interests of the leaders of this organization. The United Press has made a survey of the industrial and financial empire which the members of the Liberty League direct or control, and places a money value upon it of $37,000,000,000. The directors of the League are affiliated with all the great corporations, including United States Steel, General Motors, Standard Oil, Chase National Bank, Goodyear Tire, Westinghouse, Baltimore and Ohio, Mutual Life Insurance Company, American T. & T., and scores of similar concerns…
If Fascism comes to America, it must have the backing of an organization analogous to the American Liberty League.
Certain conditions necessary for Fascism exist in America as they did in Italy and Germany. We seem to have everything from economic distress to red-baiting hysteria to demagoguery to intolerant superpatriotism. The profit system is at last fighting in the open. As in Italy, the banner of nationalism, discipline, order, will be raised, and promises of share-the-wealth and social security will be made, and every means known to man will be used to obtain a mass following for a magnificently worded program. Although it will differ from Italian Fascism as German Fascism differs from the latter, the controlling forces will be the same.
These forces do not necessarily want civil war although they are willing, as history in other countries proves, to engage in bloodshed as a last extreme. They are usually willing to buy their peace. In the United States this means control of the two big political parties, and the corollary, the knifing of any and all third parties which might either get popular support or obtain the balance of power.
In the past it has been big business which paid the bills of both parties; at present it is still big business, but there is a decided leaning toward the Republican Party which is closer to Fascism than the Democratic, and in the future we may see a purely Fascist party— under a fine American patriotic Liberty-Boys-of-1776 name of course. Potential sponsors for this party are the Liberty League and Mr. Hearst.
In connection with the latter, it is interesting to recall the following declaration on this subject: “We still maintain a republican form of government,” wrote Mr. Hearst many years ago when he still favored a republican form of government instead of Hitler and Mussolini and the Liberty League, “but who has control of the primaries that nominate the candidate? The corporations have. Who control the conventions? The corporations. Who control the machinery of elections? The corporations. Who own the bosses and the elected officials? Are they representatives of the people or of the corporations? Let any fair-minded man answer that question truthfully. If the corporations do all this — and they surely do — can we any longer maintain that this is a government by the people? It is a government by a distinct class. …”
Well, it took Mr. Hearst a generation to make practical use of a truth he himself had announced. When he wrote the foregoing he was presumably devoting his press to the purposes and hopes of the working class as against the corporations; today Hearst is openly on the side of the corporations.
How the corporations finance the Republican and Democratic Parties today is partly revealed by the publication of campaign fund contributions — partly, since we can never know the secret financing of politics. Sometimes, of course, there are scandals — the Hearst revelations of the Standard Oil Company’s buying of senators, or Teapot Dome, or the recent Black Legion investigation — and we get a small view of the vast corruption. That Mr. Hearst was right when he declared the corporations own both parties has been proved time and again. For example, the New York World, in its great liberal crusading days, published the revelations made by Major Dickinson, a retired official of the State Department, showing that big business and the bankers had financed Theodore Roosevelt, the president who has gone into history as Teddy the Trust Buster, the enemy of the corporations — as well as of the opposition parties. Major Dickinson wrote that T.R.’s campaign was underwritten “just as they would underwrite building a railroad from here to San Francisco.” Judge Alton Brooks Parker, Roosevelt’s Democratic opponent, had the ammunition to destroy his rival but either Parker himself had been underwritten by a similar if not the same group, or the ethics of presidential campaigning were the same as newspaper ethics which require the suppression of all scandals involving the profession. Judge Parker refused to use the facts…
In September, 1936, with the presidential campaign drawing to a close, the Special Senate Committee to Investigate Lobbying Activities made public a Digest of Data from its files, including a list of contributions to the Liberty League and such similar or affiliated organizations as the American Federation of Utility Investors, American Taxpayers League, Crusaders, Farmers’ Independence Council, League for Industrial Rights (sic). Minute Men and Women of Today, National Economy League, Sentinels of the Republic and the Southern Committee to Uphold the Constitution.
Although the committee’s record is incomplete, it found that in eighteen months ending in the spring of 1936 the sum of $1,086,604.62 had been donated to these organizations by the financial-economic group which in America parallels the subsidizers of European Fascism. Of that sum, $924,974 or 90 per cent — almost the whole amount —was sent by the usual subsidizers of reaction:
Du Pont family $204,045
Rockefeller associates $ 49,852
Du Pont associates 152,622
Hutton associates 40,671
Pitcairn family 100,250
Sun Oil associates 37,260
J. P. Morgan associates 68,226
Banks and brokers 184,224
Mellon associates 60,752
Utility Companies 27,069
All these names and prices are important for many reasons. They prove that big business subsidizes both major parties, the Liberty League, and self-styled patriotic organizations which are the enemies of the people. They warrant the presumption that the same interests will subsidize an open Fascist movement since they are already subsidizing the pro-Fascists, and the Fascist-minded.