Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How Pulp History Matters: Of Smedley Butler, the Wall Street Coup, the Liberty League and the Tea Party GOP

Here is a fun found item that some of you may find of particular interest.

I rarely shill on this website. When I do endorse something, trust me, it is worth your time.

Sadly, Borders bookstore is closing down. Scavenging about, I have found a few gems as Borders liquidates their warehouses. I am now the proud owner of a collected edition of the iconic Willie and Joe comic strip series (a true find) that is all sorts of ghetto nerd cool. I also came upon the Pulp History series. These graphic novels/books (they are hard to put in a narrow category or box) excavate hidden history in an accessible yet sharp way.

David Talbot's Devil Dog explores the life and times of the legendary Marine Corps General Smedley Butler. His adventures were larger than life. The way that Butler's political conscience developed and his personal ethics demanded that he speak truth to power by exposing American militarism, is an arch of a life that is both enviable and ought to be put on the highest pantheon of this country's true patriots.

From policing Haiti, to fighting in the Boxer Rebellion, to standing up to corrupt politicians and rum runners, Mr. Butler was beloved by his troops, respected by his foes, and came to be feared by the financial and corporate elite.

In the lead up to the aborted 1934 Wall Street coup against President Roosevelt, Butler was approached by a cabal of bankers who wanted him to lead a brown shirt group of thugs that would overthrow of the U.S. government.

They misjudged their mark: General Butler would out the financier cabal.

Devil Dog's discussion of the Wall Street plot caught my eye. Whenever given the opportunity, I make sure to reiterate how the Tea Party and the New Right are part of an old Conservative game that is many decades old. Moreover, the Koch Brothers who are the corporate financiers of the "grass roots" Tea Party movement (and other Right-wing reactionary groups) have a deep family connection to the racist John Birch society.

The rhetoric against Roosevelt by the Right-wing during the 1930s and 1940s was eerily similar to much of what counts as reasonable discourse and a political agenda for Conservatives in the present.

Devil Dog describes how the plotters of the coup against Roosevelt approached Smedley Butler:
He told him that Colonel Murphy, his wealthy employer, was working with a group of other powerful men in the financial and corporate worlds to build a "super organization to maintain democracy." These men the bond salesman said, were increasingly concerned about President Roosevelt's policies, which they considered "socialistic." They were deeply alarmed by how Roosevelt was abandoning the gold standard and increasing the supply of paper money to crate government jobs for the poor. They feared FDR's inflationary policies would shrink their fortunes and bankrupt the nation.
They called him a "traitor to his class"--they said he was taking the country down the same road as Russia. Something drastic had to be done to save America.
Butler was stunned and infuriated by what he was hearing. But he tried to keep his famous temper in check--he needed to know more. What did these people want with him? Butler asked Macguire.
...A couple of weeks before, MacGuire had told Butler that the "super organization" to overthrow the Roosevelt presidency would be announced soon. The Wall Street man predicted that it would be described benignly, as a society "to maintain the Constitution." Now staring at the newspaper in his well-worn armchair, a chill ran up the general's spine.
Eerily familiar, no? I can swear that I have heard similar rhetoric from Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, and the clown car that is the 2012 GOP Presidential field. There is an irony here. In the 1930s, the gangster capitalists were going to use force to overthrow the government. In the year 2011, force is unnecessary as the financier class purchased the keys to the people's government many decades ago.

There you have it. Once more, history isn't even past, it's yesterday...and today.

1 comment:

Chris Sharp said...

After reading this post, I found a very timely article on Huff Post that is worth quoting. And no I am not making this up:

'Tea Party Zombies Must Die' Video Game Lets Players Kill Off Conservatives"

A new video game is giving players a chance to explore a post-apocalyptic Fox News studio and kill off zombies that resemble famous conservatives including Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck.

The game, called "Tea Party Zombies Must Die," is project by StarvingEyes Advergaming, a website that provides games for online viral campaigns.

Other characters in the first-person shooter include the "Generic Pissed Off Old White Guy Zombie," the "Pissed Off Stupid White Trash Redneck Birther Zombie" and the "Express Racist Views Anonymously On The Internet Modern Klan Zombie," who dons the remains of a KKK robe as he wanders around with a sign that describes President Barack Obama as a Muslim

According to National Review Online, players get "informative tidbits" between levels about how Obama's health care plan lowers the deficit, and "how most Republicans think the president is a Muslim."

Jason Oda, the head of StarvingEyes, told MRC TV the game was a personal project and downplayed the criticism coming from conservative circles.

"I am not worried about it affecting business," Oda said.

After reading your post CD, I can't wait to see what the right wing echo chamber will say about this game. The horror! In fact I think I'l go play right now. Only in America baby!

Here is the link to the full article.....