Selfish, Greedy Rich, Part I
(For my old friend Peter)
August 1934, two World War I veterans met at the Bellevue Hotel
in Philadelphia. One was Marine Corps Major General Smedly Darlington
Butler (Ret.), twice recipient of the Medal of Honor. While actively
serving, Butler won a reputation for scrupulous honesty and courage
on the battlefield. In retirement, he became a passionate advocate
for veterans' rights and benefits. America's veterans adored him.
The other vet
was Gerald MacGuire, now a bond salesman. He was there on behalf
of a rather different constituency: an influential sector of the
super-rich, including among others William Knudsen of General Motors;
the Andrew Mellon Associates; the Rockefeller Associates, and Grayson
Murphy, director of major banking and manufacturing enterprises.
a proposal for Butler: would he raise an army of up to 500,000 veterans,
and lead a coup against the Roosevelt administration?
had encroached on their freedom to make money--the only freedom
they truly cared about--the men MacGuire represented hated him with
a passion surpassing even Islamic fundamentalist Osama bin Laden's
hatred of America. They looked abroad, and in Germany and Italy
they saw a possible solution to their problem. In the July 1934
issue of Fortune Magazine, an official organ of the Roosevelt-haters,
Laird Goldsborough spoke as their proxy:
good journalist must recognize in Fascism certain ancient virtues
of the race, whether or not they happen to be momentarily fashionable
in his own country."
On their nickel,
MacGuire had spent six months in Europe, studying the methods by
which Hitler and Mussolini maintained their power. He learned that
the two dictators relied on large veterans organizations to maintain
order and intimidate rivals. MacGuire suggested to Butler that France's
Croix de Feu (Cross of Fire), representing 5,000,000 French veterans,
should be the actual model for his new army. With 500,000 veterans
on the march, and 5,000,000 American veterans behind them, Butler
would demand appointment to a new Cabinet position: Secretary of
His job description
would be to assist Roosevelt in the difficult task of managing an
America mired in the Depression. His real job would be to facilitate
America's return of to its economic root: laissez-faire capitalism.
Thus would Butler again serve his country; either through the co-option
of Roosevelt's presidential powers, or by removing him from the
office itself if he didn't play ball.
It would of
course all be accompanied by appropriate assurances to the American
people, especially those frequenting thousands of depression-era
soup kitchens, that the new arrangement was in their best interest.
MacGuire told Butler that money was no object. $3 million was available
immediately, and up to $300 million if necessary.
Were the Roosevelt-haters
stupid, or what?
his patrons didn't do their homework. Not only was Butler a true
patriot--meaning that he really believed in the Constitution--but
after retirement, he had also undergone something of a religious
conversion. Looking back on his career, he realized that he had
led young Americans to their deaths in foreign lands not to protect
the homeland, but instead to enrich Wall Street. Two years before
being approached by MacGuire, Butler stunned a large American Legion
audience by admitting that for 33 years he had been little more
than "a high-class muscleman for Big Business...."
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...safe for American oil interests in 1916....
I helped in the rape of half a dozen Central American republics
for the benefit of Wall Street.
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."
informed the House Un-American Activities Committee about the plot,
and HUAC confirmed that he was telling the truth. Nevertheless,
because of the prominence of the players involved, and of MacGuire's
care in covering his own tracks, no indictments were ever issued.
MacGuire died before a more in-depth investigation could be conducted.
so stupid after all.
After the plot
to seize the White House failed, events on the world stage forced
these proto-fascist rich to go underground. Their spiritual successors,
to whom I refer hereafter as the selfish, greedy rich (as
opposed to those who despite their riches have retained their sense
of connection with the rest of humanity), over the years devised
a variety of brilliant strategies to make their selfishness palatable,
even appealing, to the very people who should naturally suffer from
it. In 1980 the years of toil paid off with the election of their
"Magic Salesman," Ronald Reagan, to the presidency. Reagan
convinced millions of honest, hard-working Americans to hate their
own government almost as much as the selfish, greedy rich do. The
majority of Americans are now convinced that government, and especially
the despised "tax-and-spend liberals," are as much their
enemy as is Osama bin Laden.
America's free media--the very foundation America's greatness--had
long assaulted these millions of honest, hard-working Americans
with so many things they didn't want to hear, the selfish, greedy
rich simply took over the press and the airwaves. They shifted the
content and tone of the news and commentary to the far right. (All
the while inveighing against the "liberal" media, of course.)
...To be continued.
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