|This presentation appears in the July 7, 2006 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
The U.S.A.: Fascism Past and Present
by Clifford A. Kiracofe, Jr.
Here is the prepared address by Dr. Clifford A. Kiracofe, Jr. to an EIR-sponsored seminar in Berlin, Germany on June 27, 2006. Kiracofe is a former senior professional staff member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Extemporaneous comments Dr. Kiracofe made as he delivered his address, are included.
I would like to try to give some historical context to the current political situation we find ourselves in, in the United States, and also to try to establish some linkages or relationships, in a historical context, between European Fascism, and fascism as it has evolved in the United States this past century.
I thank our hosts for inviting me to speak today in our fifth meeting at this fine venue. Colleagues who attended the last meeting in March will recall I spoke on the theme of "U.S. Imperialism and the Rise of the National Security State," a project undertaken by the imperial faction in the United States for many decades now. Just as a quick aside, you might trace our imperial faction, to the 1898 war with Spain, as maybe a first real flowering of the some of the imperial faction's activities. Today, I will present some background on Fascism past and present in the United States.
In today's political situation in the United States we are, in effect, confronting the same forces that attempted to impose overt fascist rule in the United States during the 1930s. This is a story that is not widely known in Europe, or even in the United States. Back then, beginning in 1933, for example, a cabal of Wall Street financiers and industrialists, who were enthusiastic supporters of Italian Fascism and the German National Socialism, plotted a coup d'état against President Franklin Roosevelt and our constitutional form of government.
My paper today considers briefly the following major points: first, the current international situation and United States imperial policy; second, the rise of fascism in United States politics; third, Wall Street's attempted fascist coup d'état of 1934; fourth, Wall Street and European Fascism, particularly Synarchy; and fifth, contemporary American fascist ideology and the post-World War II era, that is to say, the "Conservative Movement" and "New Right" in the United States.
U.S. Imperialism Constrained
What is the current context of United States imperialism?
At the international level, we see the emerging multipolar environment developing. Russia is coming back from the trauma of the 1990s, China and India are rising, and Europe, despite its internal situation, remains nonetheless an international factor of undeniable importance.
We are not living in the so-called "unipolar world" fantasy of the American neo-conservatives and that part of the imperial faction influenced by such delusional policy ideas. We are living in an emerging multipolar international environment which does now, and will increasingly, place constraints on United States foreign policy, particularly as the extent of American internal economic and social weakness and vulnerability become apparent. External polling data, since 2003, shows a collapse of United States prestige worldwide as a result of the war on Iraq and other related factors.
The imperial faction has yet to adjust itself to international reality, and this impairs U.S. national security, in the short, medium, and long term. The imperial faction continues to attempt to consolidate a transnational oligarchy subservient to Washington, through such mechanisms as the Bilderberg Group, the Trilateral Commission, and the Davos Group, among others. Dollar-based globalization is another mechanism. But there is resistance as, for example, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization indicates, and certainly, there are additional calls for a New Bretton Woods to manage our international financial system.
Rather than orient United States diplomacy to play a constructive role in organizing the emerging multipolar world on Westphalian principles, the Bush White House, since 2001, has sought to impose its concept of unilateral global hegemony, with disastrous consequences.
Just this year alone, President Bush insulted China by his gross mishandling of the state visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao. No official state dinner was offered, and the White House gave press credentials to a well-known Falun Gong activist, who then proceeded to insult the Chinese President. Vice President Dick Cheney followed up by insulting Russia during a major speech in Lithuania. As an additional follow-up, Secretary of State Condi Rice proceeded to insult Russia on its internal situation, and portrayed China as a "negative force" in Asia.
Given Iran's powerful position inside Iraq and other factors, an orderly withdrawal of United States forces will require a regional arrangement supported by the major powers and the United Nations. The United States must eventually make arrangements with Iran in order to work out a regional settlement that would involve Iraq's neighbors, namely Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. Such a regional solution necessarily must be coordinated with Russia, China, the EU, Japan, and the United Nations.
Gen. William Odom, a respected former director of the National Security Agency (NSA), recently said that the war in Iraq is the greatest strategic mistake in the history of the United States. I certainly agree with the general's view, but would add that many of us were saying this publicly back in 2002, months before the United States launched the war. The ideologically driven imperial faction in control of United States policy would not listen to reason.
When a nation makes a strategic mistake, it pays a heavy price over an extended period of time.
The Vietnam War had many associated costs in addition to the unnecessary loss of blood and treasure. The United States was alienated from world opinion and from our European allies. But more than that, conditions were created for severe domestic economic consequences. These negative consequences arose directly from the massive costs of the war, added to the costs of President Johnson's simultaneous massive domestic "Great Society" spending program. Our society was torn apart for years by the stress of an unjust and unnecessary war.
What were the negative economic consequences?
In one word: "stagflation." From the late 1960s until the mid 1980s, the United States experienced inflation together with economic stagnation, or recession. The Nixon Administration did not solve the problem. The Ford Administration did not solve the problem. The Carter Administration did not solve the problem. The Reagan Administration, through a massive military spending programwe can call this "military Keynesianism"was able to alter the situation somewhat by plunging the nation further into unnecessary debt. Finally, during the Clinton Administration, the United States had a positive economic recovery and performance that would have left our country in good shape, had not the Bush Administration undertaken a catastrophic foreign policy.
But, just in the last few weeks, we have started to see that old word "stagflation" coming back into the public discourse. We have increasing inflation together with a slowed economy, under the general condition of "twin deficits," meaning the ever-increasing domestic budget deficit and current account deficit.
Perhaps you did not notice that, in March of this year, the White House stopped making public the "M3" monetary statistic. This political move was, of course, undertaken to make more opaque the disintegrating United States economic situation, with implications for the dollar, by obscuring this significant measure of monetary inflation.
The Rise of Fascism in United States Politics
What is fascism? As one succinct definition has it: "Fascism is the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinist, and most imperialist elements of finance capital."
What are the main features of fascism? They include: the rise of a demagogic leader sponsored by a plutocratic oligarchy, the curtailment of civil liberties, the elimination of a free press, the emasculation of labor and the labor movement, and the destruction of intellectual and political opposition.
How did this come about? Let's take a look at the 1930s in the United States, the political situation then, which involved the rise of an American form of fascism, unfortunately.
Prof. Gaetano Salvemini, a famous anti-Fascist intellectual and member of the Italian Socialist Party, warned of a "new brand of fascism" in the United States. While teaching in exile at Harvard, during the 1930s, he pointed to what he called "fascism of corporate business enterprise in this country."
Other voices in the 1930s, confronting the fascist challenge, were heard from members of President Roosevelt's own Cabinet.
Harold Ickes (1874-1952), a Progressive Republican who served in Franklin Roosevelt's Cabinet during the New Deal, forcefully condemned fascism in a speech to the American Civil Liberties Union on Dec. 8, 1937. He pointed to "the ability and willingness to turn the concentrated wealth of America against the welfare of America." He said,
Well, what happened back in the 1930s? I would just interject, parenthetically, that this is a time when our current President's grandfather was quite active on Wall Streetthat family was quite active on Wall Street.
As I said at the outset, in today's political situation in the United States we are, in effect, confronting the same forces that attempted to impose fascism in the United States during the 1930s. Back then, beginning in 1933, a cabal of Wall Street financiers and industrialists, who were enthusiastic supporters of International Fascism in Italy and Germany, and were well introduced to the higher circles of Europe, supported various movements of international Fascism in Germany, France, Italy, and England. Many of the American businessmen involved, were intimately involved in business arrangements with these very European financial and industrial circles. This cabal plotted a coup d'état against President Franklin Roosevelt and our Constitution. Let me recall the words of Ambassador William E. Dodd, Franklin Roosevelt's Ambassador to Germany. While here in our embassy, he watched American businessmen, one after the other, come to Germany in support of the Hitler regime. In 1937, he referred to the American section of the transnational fascist oligarchy of the era as follows:
Fortunately, the 1933-34 coup plot was foiled by President Roosevelt. But after Roosevelt's death, the cabal was able to continue its program for a fascist and imperial America during the Truman Administration, through the Cold War era, and down to today's White House and Congress.
Simply put, upon Franklin Roosevelt's election in 1932, the Wall Street cabal took a decision to use strategies and methods that had been used by Fascist circles in Europe, to gain influence and political power. The Wall Street cabal was well introduced into the higher circles in Europe that supported the various movements of International Fascism, and the Nazi movement, in Germany, France, Italy, and England, because many of the American businessmen involved in the Wall Street cabal were intimately involved in business arrangements with these European financial and industrial circles.
The strategies and methods of which I am speaking include the formation of action committees and mass movements, including violent organizations, which involved political as well as religious appeals to the middle and working classes. The elite circles involved in the Wall Street cabal established their own higher-level organizations to coordinate their own activities and the activities of the mass organizations which they caused to come into being.
Wall Street's Fascist `Liberty League'
But let me explain a little bit more about some of the forces behind this business plot.
Let me comment briefly on the activities of the so-called "American Liberty League" (or simply "Liberty League") organization, a powerful elite organization that the Wall Street cabal formed in 1933 and 1934, and which operated until 1940. I will place particular emphasis on the relationship between the fascist U.S. organizations and their counterparts in Europe.
The Liberty League was interfaced with a variety of fascist organizations, specifically modeled on European Fascist organizations such as the French Croix de Feu. The financial and big business interests behind the Liberty League in the United States paralleled and worked with the Confederazione dell'IndustriaOlivetti, Agnelli, and that cabalthat put Mussolini into power, and the Thyssen-Krupp-Voegeler-Flick network that put Hitler into power.
The formation of the "American Liberty League" was announced on Aug. 23, 1934. Its intent was to overturn the New Deal, President Franklin Roosevelt, and the Constitution. The leadership of the organization comprised prominent members of the Wall Street plutocracy and a number of prominent politicians, Democrat and Republican.
This American Liberty League was to impose a fascist form of government on the United States, by working behind the scenes to influence developments in high politics.
Among the key Wall Street and big business interests behind the Liberty League were the House of Morgan, the DuPonts, and the Kuhn Loeb investment-banking interests. Representatives of industrial interests such as General Motors (controlled by DuPont interests), U.S. Steel (linked to the Morgan interests), and Remington Arms (controlled by DuPont) were also deeply involved. The publishing industry was represented by the Hearst interests.
Members of the Liberty League organization were part of the prior "Business Plot" of 1933-34 which had planned an armed coup d'état against President Roosevelt. The plot was exposed by the very U.S. Marine Corps general the Wall Street cabal thought they had recruited to lead the coup, Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler, the man they sought to impose as dictator on the United States. He played along with the plot, and then immediately revealed the plot to President Roosevelt, whom he greatly admired, and then exposed it publicly in newspaper interviews and during testimony before a special investigative committee in the United States House of Representatives, the McCormack-Dickstein Committee. The coup d'état was foiled.
Nonetheless, this organization continued to operate, publicly, and included very top leaders of both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party.
So now we can see a picture developing in our internal politics in the 1930s, involving top-level Democratic Party persons, including the chairman of the National Democratic Party himself, even Al Smith, former Democratic Party Presidential candidate, and top Republican Congressmen and Senators, aligning against the New Deal, and aligning behind fascism. So this is a penetration of both political parties, which I would like us to bear in mind.
The McCormack-Dickstein Committee was established to investigate the events of 1933-34 to determine to what extent an actual coup plot, had been in motion. The committee concluded there had been such a plot but specific information and testimony as to the Wall Street connection was suppressed. According to the Committee report:
The work of this committee later led to the formation of the U.S. House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) which was authorized to investigate subversive Communist and fascist activity in the United States. Congressman John McCormack later became Speaker of the House, 1961-71.
With respect to the Business Plot, certain features deserve scrutiny. MacGuire, a Wall Street bond salesman, was recruited by a circle of financiers to first collect information in Europe in 1933 about the methods of Fascist organizations, and then to be the intermediary between the Wall Street cabal and General Butler. MacGuire was employed as a bond salesman by Robert Sterling Clark (1877-1956), Yale graduate and heir to the Singer Sewing Machine fortune, and an art collector who lived in Paris. MacGuire had been active in the American Legion, a World War I veterans' organization established by the Morgan interests.
With Clark in the plot was Grayson Mallet-Prevost Murphy, head of a Wall Street brokerage house and director of Morgan-aligned companies. Murphy, a founder of the American Legion, became the treasurer of the Liberty League. Murphy, who was a graduate of West Point, had a prior record of international intrigue and was used by President Theodore Roosevelt for secret missions, particularly in Latin America.
The American Legion war veterans' organization was established in 1919. The National Commander of the American Legion in 1922-23, Col. Alvin Owsley (1888-1967), put the matter clearly when he said, "If ever needed, the American Legion stands ready to protect our country's institutions and ideals as the Fascisti dealt with the destructionists who menaced Italy. Do not forget that the Fascisti are to Italy what the American Legion is to the United States." In 1931, the National Commander of the American Legion, Ralph T. O'Neill, gave the Italian Ambassador to the United States, a copy of a resolution of the American Legion Executive Committee praising Mussolini as a great leader.
The president of the Liberty League was Jouett Shouse (1879-1968), a former member of the U.S. Congress from Kansas (1915-19), and President Woodrow Wilson's Assistant Secretary of the Treasury (1919-20). Shouse, a former chairman of the Democratic Party's National Executive Committee, was married to a daughter of the Boston merchant Filene family. The key members of the Liberty League itself were such business and financial personalities as: William Knudson of General Motors; Nathan L. Miller, counsel of U.S. Steel; Irene, Pierre, and Lammot DuPont; Jacob Raskob of DuPont and General Motors, and the Hearst interests. Political personalities included former Gov. Al Smith of New York, the Democratic presidential candidate of 1928. Raskob was a former chairman of the Democratic Party National Committee.
Closely associated with the activities of the Liberty League, and its satellite action organizations such as the "Crusaders," were influential members of the board of the American Jewish Committee: Irving Lehman, of Lehman Brothers; Lessing J. Rosenwald, chairman of Sears Roebuck; Roger W. Strauss, director of Revere Copper and Brass; Louis Edward Kirstein, vice president of Filene's; Joseph M. Proskauer, who was a director of the American Liberty League; Henry Ittleson, who was president of the Commercial Investment Trust A.G. of Berlin; and Albert D. Lasker, who served on the Crusaders board.
The American Jewish Committee was founded in 1906 as a foreign-policy lobby group that focussed on human rights in Russia. Its publication Commentary, edited from 1960-95 by Norman Podhoretz, has been the leading vector for decades promoting so-called "neo-conservative" foreign policy and the destabilization of the Middle East.
As for the Crusaders organization I just mentioned, it was an anti-labor organization opposed to New Deal policies whose board included Albert D. Lasker, as just noted; James P. Warburg; and John W. Davis (1873-1955), legal counsel for the Morgan interests and U.S. Steel among others. Davis was the former Democratic Party Presidential candidate in 1924, and lost to Republican Calvin Coolidge. Prior to this he had served as the U.S. Ambassador at London, 1918-21.
Additional satellites of the Liberty League were: the Southern Committee to Uphold the Constitution, the Farmers' Independence Council, and the Sentinels of the Republic.
I want to give you a little flavor, just as an example, of the thinking of one of the participants in this business group, Mr. William Randolf Hearst, a well-known publishing magnate in our country, who owned hundreds of newspapers.
Hearst's involvement with the Liberty League is significant. The Hearst interests interfaced with the financial interests of West Coast financier A.P. Giannini's TransAmerica company, and Bank of America. This bank reportedly handled Mussolini's financial interests in the United States. The Hearst interests also interfaced with the British imperial interests of Sir Henry Deterding and his Royal Dutch Shell group, as well as with Lord Rothermere's interests in Canada. Deterding and Rothermere provided financial support to Sir Oswald Moseley's Fascist movement in the United Kingdom. Deterding made use of the shipping company operated by Hypolite Worms to move Royal Dutch Shell oil around the world. The Lazard Frères Paris office handled Royal Dutch Shell business in France. Furthermore, it was the Lazard group that organized the Banque Worms in the late 1920s.
The Hearst interests controlled an important share of the Remington Arms Corporation of which the DuPont interests had the controlling share. Remington small arms were reportedly to have been made available to 500,000 para-military forces operating in the service of the Business Plot which planned to seize Washington, D.C., the nation's capital, by force.
For clarity, let me illustrate press baron William Randolph Hearst's attitude toward European Fascism and National Socialism, a perspective also promoted by the Time-Life-Fortune publishing empire of Henry Luce. Let me quote Hearst, speaking in the 1930s:
That's probably the major publishing magnate in the United States during the 1930s. And if you just take a look at Time magazine during the similar period, you will note that Mr. Mussolini's picture appeared on the cover of Time magazine five times.
The "Business Plot" conspirators of 1933, with additional supporters, created the Liberty League in 1934. This time, the objective was to combat the New Deal and replace Roosevelt in the Presidential election of 1936 by getting behind a Republican opponent, which came to be Gov. Alf Landon of Kansas, a moderate, and ironically, himself, a mild supporter of the New Deal. Publicly, Landonand the Republican Partyrejected Liberty League endorsement.
Moderate advisors of Landon, however, were pushed aside through Liberty League influence. One case in point was Prof. Andrew Cordier, who was advising Landon on foreign policy and international relations. A few years ago, a relative of mine, who was a friend of Cordier and one of his former students, told me the story of how the Liberty League intrigued against the professor. But Cordier went on to become Undersecretary of the United Nations in charge of the General Assembly and Related Affairs from 1946 to 1961. He then joined the faculty of Columbia University and rose to become its president.
As the 1936 election turned out, Roosevelt crushed Landon, although this did not stop the intrigues of the Liberty League network and its successors. For example, during the Truman Administration, Dean Acheson (1893-1971), an influential Washington, D.C. attorney, became Secretary of State under President Truman. Acheson had been a member of the American Liberty League.
Is it any coincidence today that Condi Rice praises Acheson and President Bush praises Truman? Certainly not. We can recall the close business connection between the Bush family and pro-Nazi financial and industrial circles in Germany, particularly the Thyssen interests.
Wall Street and Synarchy
How did all this come about?
I mentioned the matter of "Synarchy" briefly at one of our earlier conferences here in Berlin. Let me just make a few brief comments today in that regard. Synarchy provided ideological orientation for Wall Street circles with respect to economic, political, and social organization.
For example, the American Liberty League itself promoted the social ideas of Dr. Alexis Carrel, French biologist and eugenicist associated with French Synarchist circles. He had written a number of best-selling books in the 1930s. Carrel's controlling ideas were clearly expressed in his book Man, This Unknown (L'Homme cet Inconnu), in which he argued for mankind to follow the guidance of an elite class and to implement enforced eugenics for population management. It was Carrel who had first suggested the use of gas chambers for eugenic purposes on a mass basis. Carrel, in 1937, joined a well-funded French research institute called the Centre d'Études des Problèmes Humains (CEPH) operated by Jean Coutrot, an eminence of the French Synarchy who also had ties to the British Fabian Society via the Huxleys and others.
I would note in passing that Carrel's ideas have influenced the ideology of contemporary Islamic terrorism via Sayyed Qutb of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and Maulana Maududi of the Pakistani Jamaat-i-Islaami.
The word "Synarchy," and its associated ideology, was invented by the 19th-Century French occultist Alexandre St. Yves d'Alveydre (1842-1909), who headed the esoteric Martinist Order. Born in 1842, he adopted the outlook of leading European intellectuals of the extreme right, Joseph de Maistre, Louis de Bonald, and the mystical occultism of Fabre d'Olivet (1767-1825), Napoleon's personal occult advisor.
St. Yves created an extreme right ideology to oppose what he perceived to be "anarchy," particularly what he perceived to be anarchy among nations. He called his new ideology "Synarchy" and revealed it in quite some detail in his book Mission des Souverains, first published in 1882.
The economic dimension of Synarchy influenced the "corporatist" political ideologies and movements of the early 20th Century such as Fascism. Corporative ideology called for the organization of society with control held by the ruling oligarchic and plutocratic class. Labor was to be crushed and parliamentary government was to be eliminated.
St. Yves' vision for Europe, as outlined in Chapter XII of his book, called for organizing Europe through a regional (Europe-wide) council composed of corporative chambers of economists, financiers, and industrialists. At the national level, each country would have such a council of its own. Through this process, finance and industry would be concentrated, and become the main political power governing society, a society in which labor was to be coerced into submission.
After World War I, we find in Europe the establishment of a number of Fascist movements beginning with Mussolini in Italy in 1919, but then spreading to France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and elsewhere. A remarkable feature of this political phenomenon was the spread of secret underground networks promoting Synarchy in order to create Fascist states and five Fascist regional blocs such as Pan-Europe, Pan-America, Pan-Eurasia, Pan-Asia, and a Fascist British Commonwealth.
One significant vector in all this was the esoteric Martinist Order, which penetrated many regular freemasonic lodges, creating a certain dangerous dissidence. The French Synarchists formed their secret political society in 1922 which was called the Mouvement Synarchique d'Empire, as the French police and intelligence services discovered over a decade later.
This overall political phenomenon can be justly viewed as a continuation of the well-organized 19th-Century reaction against progressive liberal fraternal organizations and political movements that fought for national unity, democracy, constitutionalism, and parliamentary government. One significant feature of 19th-Century European politics was the creation of what we can characterize as police states based to a large degree on the Napoleonic model. In the 20th Century, police states reemerge under republican guise.