by Philip Greenspan
(Swans - July 30, 2007) Each month I screen a film on some recent news event, situation, story or subject that was ignored, suppressed, or distorted by the major media. In June I delved back into history to the 1930s for a documentary, The Plot to Overthrow FDR, that told an earthshaking story that was covered up soon after it was exposed and has been ignored ever since. Because of its profound implications I felt it was a story that should be reviewed.
In 1934 a very popular retired general of the marines, Smedley Butler, told a congressional committee that a well-funded group had approached him to lead veterans in a coup d'état of Franklin Roosevelt's administration! The plans were based on the successful takeovers of the Italian government by Mussolini and his Fascists, the German government by Hitler and the Nazis, and by pending actions of French fascists, the Croix de Feu. Why? The wealthy elite of the country were furious that the FDR-led government enacted legislation they deemed inimical to their interests.
The agitation, disorder, and fear that accompanied the depression caused Roosevelt to employ unusual, unprecedented and even contradictory measures to preserve the existing system from overthrow. If anything it gave the overwhelming majority of the people confidence that their government was on their side and was going to help them. The elite, however, did not see it the same way. Any benefits to the others would obviously affect them negatively. They considered Roosevelt, a blue-blood like themselves, a traitor to their class.
A coup against a democratically-elected government, no matter how it's viewed, is treason, the worst crime of all. Who were the culprits behind this nefarious scheme? Surprisingly, or perhaps not so surprisingly, they were the most respected and upstanding men in the country, whose names would have filled the pages of the Forbes super rich if that feature had existed back then. Most of these names don't ring bells today but their positions certainly are meaningful. Two still known today are J.P. Morgan and the du Ponts. Lesser knowns are John J. Raskob, a former chairman of the Democratic Party; John W. Davis and Al Smith, democratic candidates for President in 1924 and 1928 respectively; Andrew Mellon, Secretary of the Treasury under Presidents Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover; General Hugh S. Johnson, administrator of the National Recovery Administration, a Roosevelt appointee to an aspiring program that was optimistically expected to restore the economy; and directors and executives in blue chip corporations dominated by the Morgans, Rockefellers, du Ponts, Mellons, and Pews (Sun Oil, Sunoco) such as General Motors, Chase National Bank, U.S. Steel, Standard Oil, Goodyear Tire.
Butler was so well known and active that his charges could not be covered up. Therefore the media promptly reported his claims but attempted to diminish their clout by prominently displaying the denials of eminent individuals in the know, ridiculing his testimony, and relegating his charges to the back pages of the paper where the end of the articles were continued. The congressional committee suppressed damaging portions of Butler's closed-hearing testimony. No major individual was called as a witness. The obviously perjured testimony of the agent who had solicited Butler was not indicted. Although no expected action ensued Butler's reputation for honesty assured his credibility and the public was not fooled.
Wasn't it unconscionable that this cultured, well-financed group, able to hire the talent necessary to execute their nefarious scheme with favorable prospects for success, evaded punishment? What would the reaction have been if a small, poorly-organized group of hoodlum terrorists with meager finances and without any chance of success were caught planning a coup? As the investigation and trial proceeded, the media would have sensationalized prejudicial exclusives, interviews, scoops, etc., culminating in sure-fire convictions with death penalties or life imprisonments. The elite are much too powerful to be subjected to criminal laws. Laws are written at their behest for everyone else to obey.
Within a few years their influence was again exhibited. When the U.S. entered the war, some of the traitors were appointed to positions in the wartime government in order to regulate the industries in which their companies operated. Had corporate America become loyal patriots with the country now at war? Absolutely not! Although their profits from large governmental contracts boosted profits several times as high as during preceding years they knowingly turned out and delivered defective products. Complying with their cartel agreements with German corporations caused shortages of vital commodities. And then they actually traded with the enemy by selling their goods through subsidiaries via neutral countries. Treasonous? Yes. Shocking? Not really! Why should it be shocking? Didn't Milton Friedman declare that "business in a capitalist society has no other social responsibility than to maximize profits?"
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