Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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With a new administration in Washington it will be a challenge to get the 'liberals' to hold Biden-Harris to the few 'progressive promises' they made during their campaign. Biden is bringing back many of Bush & Obama's neo-cons to head his foreign policy. I'll be on this case without hesitation.

Friday, August 21, 2020

History lesson: Gen. Smedley Butler tells all....



Born in 1881 to a family of patriotic Quakers, Smedley Butler quickly rose through the ranks of the military becoming the most decorated military figure of U.S. history- a record he holds to this day with multiple medals of honor, an Army distinguished service medal and Marine Corps Bruvet medal (to name just a few).

By the end of the British-orchestrated meat grinder known as WWI, the General had become an activist patriot giving speeches across America in denunciation of the private financiers steering America’s war-driven economy. Speaking to veterans in August 1933, the general said:

“I have spent 33 years being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism… I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1916. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City [Bank] boys to collect revenue in. I helped rape half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street… In China, I helped see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested… I had a swell racket. I was rewarded with honors, medals, and promotions. I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was operate a racket in three cities. The Marines operated on three continents…”

In spite of his outspoken criticism of crony capitalism, Wall Street’s elite simply presumed all men had their price, and Butler was probably just indignant because he was never given a big enough piece of pie.

The Wall Street Putsch is Launched

These financiers needed someone like Butler to channel the rage of the striking veterans of WWI across America who had been fighting for the bonus pay promised them years earlier but which didn’t exist due to the 1929 collapse. A force of hundreds of thousands of disgruntled seasoned soldiers was exactly what was needed to overthrow Roosevelt, but leadership was sorely lacking, and General Butler was their man for the job. He was a war hero who was seen as honest and loved by the veterans. He was perfect.

Under the guiding hand of JP Morgan’s Grayson Prevost Murphy, two representatives of the American Legion (Commander Bill Doyle and bond salesman Gerald MacGuire) approached Butler in July 1933 for the job of rallying the Legion’s veterans and began dropping hints of a larger coup plot. Butler became suspicious, but continued playing along with the plan to see how far this went up the ladder of power (1).

Over the course of the next several months, Butler discovered that America’s financial elite centered around John Pierpont Morgan Jr., the Harrimans, the Melons, Warburgs, Rockefellers and Duponts were at the heart of the plot. These men used their agents such as Gerald MacGuire a Morgan-affiliated bond salesman, Democratic Party controllers John W. Davis and Thomas Lamont (both occupying directorships in the House of Morgan), Robert Sterling Clark (heir to the Singer sewing machine fortune), Grayson Prevost Murphy and Harriman Family investment banker Prescott Bush. All of these characters had become well known “investors” in European fascism, owned the biggest media platforms including Fortune and Time Magazine (both of which promoted Mussolini extensively for years), and controlled the levers of industry.

Luckily, the 1932-1934 Pecora Commission exposed these forces publicly as the architects of the great depression, making their ability to acquire popular support and sympathy more than a little difficult.

Outlining his Committee’s findings Pecora had written publicly: “Undoubtedly, this small group of highly placed financiers, controlling the very springs of economic activity, holds more real power than any similar group in the U.S.A.”

Butler Blows the Whistle

When the time was right, Butler blew the whistle by approaching the Special Committee on Un-American Activities (the McCormack-Dickstein Committee) which began an investigation on November 20, 1934. Unlike the Committee on Un-American Activities which made its reputation destroying patriotic lives under the communist witch hunt of McCarthyism, this earlier version was aligned to FDR and dedicated solely to identifying Nazi activity in America.

At first sceptical of the general’s claims, the committee soon  substantiated everything over the course of  a month long investigation and made their findings public to FDR and congress on December 29, 1934. An invaluable part of the hearings were the testimonies of journalist Paul Comly French whom Butler recruited to act as the general’s intermediary with the bankers.

Butler told the committee that MacGuire stated it “wouldn’t take any constitutional change to authorize another cabinet official, somebody to take over the details of the office—to take them off the President’s shoulders” and that “we’d do with him what Mussolini did to the King of Italy”.

When French asked MacGuire how the coup would help solve unemployment, MacGuire responded: “We need a fascist government to save the nation from the Communists… It was the plan that Hitler had used in putting all of the unemployed in labor camps or barracks—enforced labor. That would solve it overnight.”

Although the full transcripts were not made public, Butler did get the message to the population by giving his story to as many journalists as possible and recorded a message to the people in 1935.

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