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- See also: the improbably named hero General Smedley Darlington Butler
One of the reasons for the popularity of Milton Friedman's plastic smile and endlessly flowing stream of reversals of the truth, amongst right wingers, is that the chimera of economics is inevitably a creator of new cloud images for the chimera of right-wing politics. One of the lies is that the New Deal (WP) was the cause, rather than the amelioration, of the Great Depression. Since the Depression came after the 1929 stock market crash, this is a little hard to swallow if you are not trying really hard. Criticism of the New Deal of course can be used with great effect as a tool against late 20th Century EVERYTHING, since the Left is anywhere from exemplified by, to harnessed to (to the point where they will elect someone willing to employ Flying Death Squads), the New Deal's ideals. But there is another, older reason for the Right's revulsion for Roosevelt's policies. The Crash of '29 was on the face of it and even more clearly upon examination, a massive and definitive failure of capitalism, so the New Deal programs were likewise not merely a cure for the ills inflicted by Wall Street, but a prevention of their reoccurrence. While the police were for capitalists, free security guards, like the Pinkertons before them, and laws restricting foreign trade were a padded playpen for them, any laws that actually affect capitalists themselves are like Holy Water to a vampire. The Corporate regulations in the New Deal set off a reaction in the privileged and (before they shot themselves in the foot in '29) prosperous, of which Friedman's whining is a mere echo.
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Gerald MacGuire; there may be found information useful to the improvement of this article
Gerald C. MacGuire (Jerry) was a Wall Street bond salesman for Wikipedia:Grayson Mallet-Prevost Murphy and a former commander of the Connecticut American Legion. According to General Smedley Butler's testimony before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) (WP), MacGuire, in 1934, attempted to recruit him to a right wing cause, an alleged plot by the richest men in Corporate America. MacGuire personally revealed the details of their plan to overthrow the US and Franklin Delano Roosevelt's administration. The coup attempt has become known as the "Business Plot".
The following summarized from the writings of Alan Bellows:
- The Revenge of the Fighting Quaker, written by Alan Bellows, !Damn Interesting! Article #291
- Alien Hand Syndrome: And Other Too-Weird-Not-to-Be-True Stories, Alan Bellows
Gerald MacGuire, accompanied by one other man, visited Smedley Butler on the 1st of July 1933. MacGuire urged him to run for National Commander of the American Legion, an influential organization of veterans, but Butler declined. MacGuire made several visits afterwards, claiming to represent The Committee for a Sound Dollar, intent on reinstating the gold standard by pressuring Roosevelt. He implied his organization had the support of several political leaders and financial backing from the richest individuals and corporations in the US. He had enough cash on him to make this credible, and the accuracy of his predictions of personnel changes in the White House and the emergence of the American Liberty League also supported his story. The League's existence was kept secret by its wealthy American members until they themselves were ready to announce it; they included the leaders of DuPont, JP Morgan, US Steel, General Motors, Standard Oil, Colgate, Heinz Foods, Chase National Bank, and Goodyear Tire. The League's stated purpose was to "defend and uphold the Constitution."
Prescott Bush is evidenced as being involved also, but he was the generation in between the League and the successive CIA-United Fruit, Operation Iraqi Liberation-Halliburton alliances in more than just being father to HW- and grandfather to W-Bush. He represents the transition between Big Capitalism being less separate from the government and more interdependent.
On 22 August 1934, upon MacGuire's return from Europe, General Butler learned of the next layer of Gerald's plot in an empty hotel restaurant. GMG's financial backers were to assemble an army of 500,000 disgruntled veterans, sown from the seeds of the original Bonus Army. The League wanted Butler as its leader. "We've got three million [dollars] to start with on the line," MacGuire claimed, "and we can get three hundred million if we need it."
The League said they were mimicking the methods of Benito Mussolini (WP), the very definition of Fascist, who had risen to power in Italy a decade earlier. Exactly according to Mussolini's example of a successful right-wing revolution, they would use the support of a veteran militia to protect the country from communism. The defining characteristic of fascist governments is twofold. One, that they are a government with stringent-to-totalitarian control of the people, and two, that they form an interdependent partnership with capitalists. Italy's industry had been backed to the hilt by Mussolini. To capitalists who believe the sun shines out of their assholes, subjugation of the country's soul was unnoticed in the face of such an ideal model for repairing America's impoverished economy. According to the plan, Roosevelt and other existing US leadership would be allowed to remain as figureheads, while the true policy-making power would fall to a new cabinet position which Smedley Butler would occupy: The Secretary for General Affairs.
"Old Gimlet Eye" Butler invited an associate named Paul Comly French to witness the discussions.
- "Roosevelt hasn't got the real solution to the unemployment situation, but we'll put across a plan that will be really effective. All unemployed men would be put in military barracks, under forced labor, as Hitler does, and that would soon solve that problem. Another thing we would do immediately would be to register all persons in the United States, as they do in Europe. That would stop a lot of Communist agitators wandering around loose." GMG, as told by Paul Comly French.
GMG hinted that Remington Arms company, in which the DuPont family owned a controlling interest, would provide the weapons.
At that time the president's popularity was low. The League members had enough influence over the media to manipulate the public into acceptance. The US armed forces were at decreased peacetime levels. With the "Fighting Quaker" Smedley to galvanize the 500,000 armed revolutionaries, it was quite possible that such a coup d'état could be successful.
In the autumn of 1934, "Old Duckboard" Butler called a crowd of journalists around him as he addressed the nation in a press conference. Not to demand the surrender of the United States government, however. Instead, he revealed to the reporters the secret plot by corporate leaders to install a fascist government in their own nation. "The upshot of the whole thing," he explained, "was that I was supposed to lead an organization of five hundred thousand men which would be able to take over the functions of government."
The Old Gimlet Eye, it turned out, had been letting Gerald MacGuire talk, gathering enough information to expose the League. Though Smedley Butler had indeed grown weary of the government using him as a "gangster for capitalism," he was still a willing servant of the government's interests when he did not see them as corrupt. Butler's associate, Paul Comly French, had attended as an undercover reporter for the Wikipedia:Philadelphia Record and Wikipedia:New York Evening Post. The two men testified before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) (WP), telling all they had heard from MacGuire. Veterans of Foreign Wars National Commander Wikipedia:James Van Zandt also testified before the congressional committee, stating that he had likewise been approached to lead such a march on Washington.
MacGuire and the wealthy men he allegedly represented called the allegations "a joke, a publicity stunt". They used the now-hoary trick of turning the seriousness of the charges into incredulity. Like all "conspiracy theories" to come, the worse the behaviour, the more likely people were to want to disbelieve it. So it was an easy and effective, if impolite, tactic to publicly question General Butler's sanity. But MacGuire's credibility with the committee was shaken by his testimony's internal contradictions. The report of the investigative HUAC committee found compelling evidence of a plot:
- "In the last few weeks of the Committee's official life it received evidence showing that certain persons had made an attempt to establish a fascist organization in this country.... There is no question but that these attempts were discussed, were planned, and might have been placed in execution when and if the financial backers deemed it expedient.
- "This committee received evidence from Major General Smedley D. Butler (retired), twice decorated by the Congress of the United States. He testified before the Committee as to conversations with one Gerald C. MacGuire in which the latter is alleged to have suggested the formation of a fascist army under the leadership of General Butler.
- "MacGuire denied these allegations under oath, but your Committee was able to verify all the pertinent statements made by 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 forms of veterans' organizations of fascist character."
MacGuire and the other accused plotters denied any such involvement, and historians and contemporary journalists generally discount Butler's accusations. MacGuire died of pneumonia shortly after his testimony.
Butler following Edit
In December 1933, Butler toured the country with Wikipedia:James E. Van Zandt to recruit members for the Wikipedia:Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). He described their effort as "trying to educate the soldiers out of the sucker class." In his speeches he denounced the Wikipedia:Economy Act of 1933, called on veterans to organize politically to win their benefits, and condemned the FDR administration for its ties to big business. The VFW reprinted one of his speeches with the title "You Got to Get Mad" in its magazine Foreign Service. He said: "I believe in...taking Wall St. by the throat and shaking it up." He believed the rival veterans' group the Wikipedia:American Legion was controlled by banking interests. On December 8, 1933, he said: "I have never known one leader of the American Legion who had never sold them out—and I mean it."
In addition to his speeches to pacifist groups, he served from 1935 to 1937 as a spokesman for the Wikipedia:American League Against War and Fascism. In 1935, he wrote the exposé Wikipedia:War Is a Racket, a trenchant condemnation of the profit motive behind warfare. His views on the subject are summarized in the following passage from a 1935 issue of the socialist magazine Common Sense:
- "I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti (WP) and Cuba (WP) a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902–1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China (WP) in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents."
- Alan Bellows (2007-09-14). "The Revenge of the Fighting Quaker". http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=883. Retrieved 2007-09-15.
- ↑ Burk, Robert F. (1990). "The Corporate State and the Broker State: The Du Ponts and American National Politics, 1925-1940". Harvard University Press. Template:Citation/identifier. http://books.google.com/books?id=v7g1kOz2ycgC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false.
- ↑ Sargent, James E. (November 1974). "Review of: The Plot to Seize the White House, by Jules Archer". 151-152. http://www.livejournal.com/users/bailey83221/47815.html.
- ↑ Author unknown (Wikipedia:December 3 Wikipedia:1934). "Plot Without Plotters". http://www.livejournal.com/users/bailey83221/47109.html.
Template:Cite journal; Author unknown (Wikipedia:November 22 Wikipedia:1934). "Credulity Unlimited". 20. http://www.livejournal.com/users/bailey83221/47109.html#NYT.
Philadelphia Record, Wikipedia:November 21 and 22, 1934;Wikipedia:Time Magazine, Wikipedia:25 February Wikipedia:1935: "Also last week the House Committee on Un-American Activities purported to report that a two-month investigation had convinced it that General Butler's story of a Fascist march on Washington was alarmingly true." New York Times February 16 1935. p. 1, "Asks Laws To Curb Foreign Agitators; Committee In Report To House Attacks Nazis As The Chief Propagandists In Nation. State Department Acts Checks Activities Of An Italian Consul -- Plan For March On Capital Is Held Proved. Asks Laws To Curb Foreign Agitators, "Plan for “March” Recalled. It also alleged that definite proof had been found that the much publicized Fascist march on Washington, which was to have been led by Major. Gen. Smedley D. Butler, retired, according to testimony at a hearing, was actually contemplated. The committee recalled testimony by General Butler, saying he had testified that Gerald C. MacGuire had tried to persuade him to accept the leadership of a Fascist army."
- ↑ The Revenge of the Fighting Quaker, written by Alan Bellows, !Damn Interesting! Article #291
- ↑ Alien Hand Syndrome: And Other Too-Weird-Not-to-Be-True Stories, Alan Bellows
- ↑ Stephen R. Ortiz, "The 'New Deal' for Veterans: The Economy Act, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Origins of the New Deal," Journal of Military History, vol. 70 (2006), 434–5
- ↑ New York Times: "Butler for Bonus out of Wall Street", December 10, 1933, accessed January 10, 2011
- ↑ Schmidt, 1998, p. 234
- ↑ Klehr, 1984, pp. 110–12, 372–73
- ↑ Schmidt, 1998, p. 231