Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume 3, Number 29 August 24 - 30, 2003 Quezon City, Philippines
Note: This story ran in the New York Times in 1944. Draw your own
conclusions and compare Henry Wallace's analysis to the situation we find
ourselves in today.
Danger of American Fascism
Henry A. Wallace
to Alternative Reader Index
is a fascist?
fascist is one whose lust for money or power is combined with such an intensity
of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions,
cultures, regions or nations as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or
violence to attain his ends. The supreme god of a fascist, to which his ends are
directed, may be money or power; may be a race or a class; may be a military,
clique or an economic group; or may be a culture, religion, or a political
perfect type of fascist throughout recent centuries has been the Prussian
Junker, who developed such hatred for other races and such allegiance to a
military clique as to make him willing at all times to engage in any degree of
deceit and violence necessary to place his culture and race astride the world.
In every big nation of the world are at least a few people who have the fascist
temperament. Every Jew-baiter, every Catholic hater, is a fascist at heart. The
hoodlums who have been desecrating churches, cathedrals and synagogues in some
of our larger cities are ripe material for fascist leadership.
obvious types of American fascists are dealt with on the air and in the press.
These demagogues and stooges are fronts for others. Dangerous as these people
may be, they are not so significant as thousands of other people who have never
been mentioned. The really dangerous American fascists are not those who are
hooked up directly or indirectly with the Axis. The FBI has its finger on those.
The dangerous American fascist is the man who wants to do in the United States
in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American
fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels
of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present
the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into
giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.
we define an American fascist as one who in case of conflict puts money and
power ahead of human beings, then there are undoubtedly several million fascists
in the United States. There are probably several hundred thousand if we narrow
the definition to include only those who in their search for money and power are
ruthless and deceitful. Most American fascists are enthusiastically supporting
the war effort. They are doing this even in those cases where they hope to have
profitable connections with German chemical firms after the war ends. They are
patriotic in time of war because it is to their interest to be so, but in time
of peace they follow power and the dollar wherever they may lead.
fascism will not be really dangerous until there is a purposeful coalition among
the cartelists, the deliberate poisoners of public information, and those who
stand for the K.K.K. type of demagoguery.
European brand of fascism will probably present its most serious postwar threat
to us via Latin America. The effect of the war has been to raise the cost of
living in most Latin American countries much faster than the wages of labor. The
fascists in most Latin American countries tell the people that the reason their
wages will not buy as much in the way of goods is because of Yankee imperialism.
The fascists in Latin America learn to speak and act like natives. Our chemical
and other manufacturing concerns are all too often ready to let the Germans have
Latin American markets, provided the American companies can work out an
arrangement which will enable them to charge high prices to the consumer inside
the United States. Following this war, technology will have reached such a point
that it will be possible for Germans, using South America as a base, to cause us
much more difficulty in World War III than they did in World War II. The
military and landowning cliques in many South American countries will find it
attractive financially to work with German fascist concerns as well as expedient
from the standpoint of temporary power politics.
is a worldwide disease. Its greatest threat to the United States will come after
the war, either via Latin America or within the United States itself.
another danger is represented by those who, paying lip service to democracy and
the common welfare, in their insatiable greed for money and the power which
money gives, do not hesitate surreptitiously to evade the laws designed to
safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion. American fascists of this
stamp were clandestinely aligned with their German counterparts before the war,
and are even now preparing to resume where they left off, after "the
present unpleasantness" ceases:
symptoms of fascist thinking are colored by environment and adapted to immediate
circumstances. But always and everywhere they can be identified by their appeal
to prejudice and by the desire to play upon the fears and vanities of different
groups in order to gain power. It is no coincidence that the growth of modern
tyrants has in every case been heralded by the growth of prejudice. It may be
shocking to some people in this country to realize that, without meaning to do
so, they hold views in common with Hitler when they preach discrimination
against other religious, racial or economic groups. Likewise, many people whose
patriotism is their proudest boast play Hitler's game by retailing distrust of
our Allies and by giving currency to snide suspicions without foundation in
American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of
truth and fact. Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every
fissure of disunity, every crack in the common front against fascism. They use
every opportunity to impugn democracy. They use isolationism as a slogan to
conceal their own selfish imperialism. They cultivate hate and distrust of both
Britain and Russia. They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy
every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but
are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward
which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using
the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep
the common man in eternal subjection.
leaders of industry in this country who have gained a new vision of the meaning
of opportunity through co-operation with government have warned the public
openly that there are some selfish groups in industry who are willing to
jeopardize the structure of American liberty to gain some temporary advantage.
We all know the part that the cartels played in bringing Hitler to power, and
the rule the giant German trusts have played in Nazi conquests. Monopolists who
fear competition and who distrust democracy because it stands for equal
opportunity would like to secure their position against small and energetic
enterprise. In an effort to eliminate the possibility of any rival growing up,
some monopolists would sacrifice democracy itself.
has been claimed at times that our modern age of technology facilitates
dictatorship. What we must understand is that the industries, processes, and
inventions created by modern science can be used either to subjugate or
liberate. The choice is up to us. The myth of fascist efficiency has deluded
many people. It was Mussolini's vaunted claim that he "made the trains run
on time." In the end, however, he brought to the Italian people
impoverishment and defeat. It was Hitler's claim that he eliminated all
unemployment in Germany. Neither is there unemployment in a prison camp.
to crush fascism internally must demonstrate its capacity to "make the
trains run on time." It must develop the ability to keep people fully
employed and at the same time balance the budget. It must put human beings first
and dollars second. It must appeal to reason and decency and not to violence and
deceit. We must not tolerate oppressive government or industrial oligarchy in
the form of monopolies and cartels. As long as scientific research and inventive
ingenuity outran our ability to devise social mechanisms to raise the living
standards of the people, we may expect the liberal potential of the United
States to increase. If this liberal potential is properly channeled, we may
expect the area of freedom of the United States to increase. The problem is to
spend up our rate of social invention in the service of the welfare of all the
worldwide, agelong struggle between fascism and democracy will not stop when the
fighting ends in Germany and Japan. Democracy can win the peace only if it does
up the rate of political and economic inventions so that both production and,
especially, distribution can match in their power and practical effect on the
daily life of the common man the immense and growing volume of scientific
research, mechanical invention and management technique. Vivifies with the
greatest intensity the spiritual processes which are both the foundation and the
very essence of democracy.
moral and spiritual aspects of both personal and international relationships
have a practical bearing which so-called practical men deny. This dullness of
vision regarding the importance of the general welfare to the individual is the
measure of the failure of our schools and churches to teach the spiritual
significance of genuine democracy. Until democracy in effective enthusiastic
action fills the vacuum created by the power of modern inventions, we may expect
the fascists to increase in power after the war both in the United States and in
in the postwar inevitably will push steadily for Anglo-Saxon imperialism and
eventually for war with Russia. Already American fascists are talking and
writing about this conflict and using it as an excuse for their internal hatreds
and intolerances toward certain races, creeds and classes.
should also be evident that exhibitions of the native brand of fascism are not
confined to any single section, class or religion. Happily, it can be said that
as yet fascism has not captured a predominant place in the outlook of any
American section, class or religion. It may be encountered in Wall Street, Main
Street or Tobacco Road. Some even suspect that they can detect incipient traces
of it along the Potomac. It is an infectious disease, and we must all be on our
guard against intolerance, bigotry and the pretension of invidious distinction.
But if we put our trust in the common sense of common men and "with malice
toward none and charity for all" go forward on the great adventure of
making political, economic and social democracy a practical reality, we shall
We want to know what you think of this article.