Category Archives: Fascism

Henry A. Wallace, Tell the People Who We Are

img_0502The last in my Wallace series: After losing the vice presidency to Truman in the 1944 election, Wallace served FDR as Secrectary of Commerce until his death.  He continued under Truman until their wildly parting policy positions, especially regarding Russia, finally resulted in Truman firing him from this position.  By 1948, the Progressive Party was ready to make a run for the White House and Wallace was their presidential candidate.  The speech below is from that 1948 campaign.  Tell Them Who We Are, Henry A. Wallace.  Speech delivered at Progressive Party Rally, New York, N. Y., September 10, 1948.  From Vital Speeches of the Day (October 1, 1948), v. 14, n. 24, p. 743.

Tell the People Who We Are:  Just two years ago I spoke to many thousands of you who are here tonight. I said then as I say tonight that peace is the basic issue of the 1948 election campaign. I say now that the first job of national defense: the most important job in maintaining the peace is the job of conquering hate here at home, the job of protecting the civil rights of all Americans.
This is a great American meeting.
It is a meeting in the best American tradition—a meeting of men and women of all races, of all creeds.

Last week—in smaller gatherings—we proved that such meetings can be held in the much-maligned Southern states. We proved that such meetings—meetings of all the people—can be held wherever men respect the Constitution of the United States; and wherever they respect the Christian principles of brotherhood on which so much of our modern civilization has been built.  The news reported from the South last week was news of eggs and tomatoes. It was news of violence and threats of violence.
And there were eggs. And there were tomatoes. And there was violence and there were threats of violence.  Yes, and there were the ugly spewings of hate and prejudice; and the sad sight of men and women and children whose faces were contorted with hate.

TRIP SOUTH–But the significance of our trip south was not the dramatic proof that there are seeds of violence and fascism and deep prejudice in the Southern states. The significance was not in proving what is known.  No. The significance of our Southern trip lies in the two dozen completely unsegregated, peaceful meetings which we were able to hold.
The significance lies in those meetings in Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee which were held—even as this meeting tonight—in the best American tradition.  We held such meetings by insisting on our American rights to freely assemble and freely speak.  And if there is one message above all other messages which bring you as a result of that Southern trip, it is this: Fear is a product of inactivity and the greatest remedy for fear is to stand up and fight for your rights.  In the course of private and public life I have traveled many places. I have experienced many fields. I have had a wide variety of emotional experiences. But I have never had such deeply moving experiences as those of the first week of September, 1948, when I traveled South to campaign for peace.

I had seen the victims of mass prejudice in a DP camp.
I had seen and felt—as any decent human being must feel—for the Jewish orphans interned in Italy.
I had visited foreign lands—Latin America, China and many parts of Europe, and had my heart go out to victims of oppression.
I have deplored and felt that I truly understood the plight of workers who have faced picket line violence.

FOUND FASCISM –I had been South before—many times—and I thought I understood the plight of our Negro citizens.  But I discovered last week that my understanding was only the limited understanding; the sympathetic feeling of a friend for a man who is afflicted.  To me fascism is no longer a second-hand experience—a motion picture, a photograph or the deeply moving words of a great writer.  It is no longer a mere definition of an economic and political system in which freedom is stifled by private power; in which prejudices are bred and nourished; in which man is set against man for the profit of powerful and greedy forces.  No, fascism has become an ugly reality—a reality which I have tasted.  I have tasted it neither so fully nor so bitterly as millions of others. But I have tasted it.  And in tasting it I have reinforced my solemn resolution to fight it wherever and whenever it appears so long as I live.
Last week—when I had a chance to live—to live very briefly and relatively mildly—the kind of life which millions of Americans live every waking hour, last week I learned what prejudice and hatred can mean. I learned to know the face of violence, although I was spared the full force of violence. I saw the ugly reality of how hate and prejudice can warp good men and women; turn Christian gentlemen into raving beasts; turn good mothers and wives into jezebels.  I didn’t like that part of what I saw. I didn’t like to see men and women fall victims to the catchwords of prejudice and the slogans of hate, even as the poor people of Germany were victimized by the catchwords and slogans of Hitler and Streicher.

HATE MONGERS IN ACTION–I saw how a few hate mongers carefully placed in a crowd of decent folks can set off a dangerous spark.  I saw a young college student—a Progressive party worker—who was severely cut across his chest and arms by the agents of hate.  I was a passenger in the car of a prominent businessman in a Southern city as he raced down dark streets and alleys to elude all who might be following us so that he could take me, unknown to anyone else, to his home for dinner.  He was a courageous man. The precautions he took were necessary. His business in that Southern town would have been ruined, if it were known that a candidate for the Presidency, a former Vice President, was having dinner at his home.  I saw an irate landlord rouse a quiet neighborhood where I had gone quietly to rest and work on a radio speech at the apartment of a young couple.  I saw how fear is bred and perpetuated and capitalized—and I didn’t like it.

MET COURAGE THAT BRINGS HOPE–But I also saw the kind of courage; the kind of real, deep human fighting spirit which promises a new day for the South and for the world.  I saw men and women, white and Negro, who have been leading the fight against hate and prejudice and intolerance in the South.  I saw them standing up and fighting for the very foundations of our American way of life—standing up to all kinds of intimidation. And from them radiates a contagious spirit; the same kind of spirit of resistance which stopped the armies of Adolf Hitler in half a dozen European countries.  I heard Clark Foreman say so truthfully that “Down here, to believe in the Constitution means you are automatically called a Communist”; and I heard a young college student, a veteran, add: “It’s like General Carlson said, ‘To be called a Red here is a badge of honor.’ ”  I am confident that their spirit—the spirit of the progressive Southerners—will triumph in the South. I am hopeful that our trip helped to build their forces; helped rally new strength; helped along the movement which will free the South. Rich in resources—proud and courageous, the South must be—and will be—freed from the shackles in which it has been held by huge corporations with headquarters only four miles south of here—not in Virginia, not in Tennessee, but in Wall Street.
STEEL KEEPS PEOPLE DIVIDED –The free South and the feudal South live side by side in the State of Alabama. In one day we received courteous receptions and held free meetings in the best American tradition in Decatur and Huntsville and Gunthersville in the great TVA area; and on the same day we could not hold meetings in Gadsden and Birmingham and Bessemer, cities which are dominated by Northern-owned steel corporations. We did not hold meetings because the police insisted on dividing Americans by the color of their skins. We did not hold meetings because the constitutional right to freely assemble and speak was denied by the police authorities of those company towns.
Here—in Alabama—in a single day, we saw the economic basis of hate and segregation.  In the steel towns it is profitable to keep labor divided.
North against South, race against race, farmer against worker—the profits of the men who own the South are multiplied by keeping the people divided.  But their days are numbered.  The good people of the South have learned their scriptures. They know the fundamental Christian doctrine of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man. They know that “God hath made of one blood all the nations to dwell upon the face of the earth.” They know that we are all members, one of another. Just as surely as men everywhere, they want the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth; and they are not going to be stopped any longer by those who spew hate.  It is the owners of the mines and mills, the great plantations, and newspapers who incite violence.
OWNERS DON’T FIGHT, BUT INFLAME–They don’t personally engage in lynching either free speech or human beings, just as they don’t personally engage in fighting the wars from which they profit.  But they inflame the passions of others. They have had others do their dirty work. But the ranks of new recruits for their dirty work are narrowing as more and more men and women of the South see how they have been victimized by prejudice—as they see how it has profited the few, and brought misery for themselves and their neighbors.  And the workers and farmers and independent businessmen of the South are turning from the false leadership of those who have been styled “Southern liberals”—they are turning from those who have preached the tolerance of intolerance, tolerance of segregation; tolerance of murderous Jim Crow. They are learning that such men are only slightly to the left of Hitler and Rankin.
They are learning that no man can believe in both segregation and democracy.
In a radio interview the editor of an Arkansas paper asked me about FEPC. He wanted to know if I would interfere with the right of men to choose their own associates. And I replied that I considered that a most Important right. I replied that it was precisely my devotion to that right that leads me to fight segregation—segregation which deprives both white and Negro from freely choosing their own associates.  I told this same man; this same champion of segregation that while I knew we couldn’t legislate love, we most certainly could and will legislate against the acts of hate.
PLEDGE TO CUT CONGRESS–Throughout the South we spoke for the full protection of all citizens under the Constitution of the United States. Tonight, I want to call upon the candidates of the Republican and Democratic parties to pledge with me that whosoever shall be elected, he will enforce the second section of the Fourteenth Amendment no less than the other provisions of the Constitution. That section of our Constitution calls for the reduction of the number of Congressmen for each state where the right to vote is abridged.
In 1946 the votes cast to elect fourteen Congressmen. from Louisiana and Mississippi were less than the votes cast in the Twenty-fifth Congressional District here in New York.  John Rankin and thirteen others, all together, received less votes than are cast here in the Twenty-fifth District.  That is not only unfair to the people of New York’s Twenty-fifth District; it is grossly unfair to the people of the Southern states whose freedom has been limited by the failure of the Congress to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment.
If every Congressional candidate, if each of the Presidential candidates will take a pledge to secure constitutional reapportionment on the basis of the next census, I predict that we shall see an end to the many hindrances to free suffrage in the South.
We pledge ourselves to enforce this constitutional right.

PROUD OF OUR ENEMIES–In pledging to live by the Constitution, we have earned enemies. And we are proud of our enemies.
The men who stand for Jim Crow.
The men who stand for Taft-Hartley.
The men who support fascists in Greece and China.
The men who prefer an atmosphere of war, because they profit by it.
The men who hated Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal and who now find their unity in hatred for the Progressive party.
These men, Republicans and Democrats bound together by hate, are using every mechanism which bipartisan fear can suggest to defeat congressional candidates who stand for peace.
The Democrats, the Republicans, and the self-styled Liberals have joined hands to support single candidates against the candidates of the Progressive party; against candidates of the American Labor party.  They have joined hands in their bipartisan wrath against two men with the best liberal and labor voting records in the Congress of the United, States.  They have honored—these corrupt and dangerous men—they have honored two real servants of the people, Vito Marcantonio and Leo Isacson. They have honored Leo Isacson with a single opponent. They have honored Vito Marcantonio with a joint campaign of vituperation and hate.  They are afraid of our strength. They saw what the people could do last February when they sent Leo Isacson to the Congress.  They have seen, time and again, the devotion of Vito Marcantonio’s constituents to that dynamic champion of progressive principles. They have reason for their fear—and though they have combined their resources and efforts, we shall lick them on election day and return Vito Marcantonio and Leo Isacson to the Congress.
BIPARTISANS’ NEW ALLIES–It is with great sadness that I note that the bipartisans have some new allies; fearful men who call themselves liberals and leaders of labor; men who cry out against Wall Street running the country and then ask workers to give dollar bills to keep President Truman and his Wall Street gang in Washington.
I say such action, such double talk, such duplicity is shameful, immoral, and corrupt.
These illiberal liberals; these labor leaders who fight monopoly with words, but whose actions support the candidates of monopoly, these men make possible the Truman double talk. They make it possible for Truman to condemn Taft-Hartley while using it to destroy unions and the Wagner Act; to call for civil rights, while maintaining segregation in the Armed Forces and conducting loyalty purges; to call for price controls after killing them; to call for peace, while preparing for war.
The surest proof that we of the Progressive party are not impractical in our politics is in the alliances of hate which have been formed against us.
Some of the liberals, some of the Pied Pipers of labor will tell us that they have compromised because Roosevelt compromised; but they slander a great man when they draw that comparison.  Roosevelt, by the deftest political maneuvering in all history, made many a political deal, but always advancing the cause of the common man.

NOT FOR SALE–The men who are bargaining with corruption today hope for no gains, no advancements. They are bargaining to minimize losses. They are fearful men. They are men who might well heed the lesson that the only cure for fear is to stand up and fight for right.
The bipartisans have learned that the Progressives are not for sale. They have found out—through their leading agent in New York City, Mayor O’Dwyer, that the party in which Fiorello LaGuardia was proud to enroll himself is not for sale.
Bill O’Dwyer found it out when he tried with his fanciest offers to get John Rogge to quit the race for the surrogate’s bench. Bill O’Dwyer heard Vito Marcantonio say “no.” He heard John Rogge say “no.” And he knows that John Rogge will conduct the kind of dynamic, fighting campaign against corruption which he himself should have fought against Tammany.
O’Dwyer, who has Trumanized his local administration by serving the same interests as the Republicans, by pitting police against strikers, by fighting inflation with increased subway fares, by invoking local loyalty orders; Bill O’Dwyer has found that Progressives know double-talk when they hear it.
As President Truman has demonstrated that he could not fill the shoes of Roosevelt; so Mayor O’Dwyer has shown that he cannot fill the shoes of LaGuardia.

NAME CALLING DISCOUNTED–Yes, our “no sale” sign has earned us many names. But it does not matter if they call us red or black, if they lie about us or egg us or stone us. We will not join the Republican-Democratic poker match which governs out of the backroom—from the bottom of the deck.
The shop-worn, the discredited, the cheap political tricksters have joined with those who all their lives have practiced black reaction. They have set up one camp, though there are many banners.
And what are they joined against? What are we that they should forget old feuds to fight against us?
We are those who stand against the course which leads to war.
We are those who would take from the hands of monopoly the power to say who shall starve and who shall feast. We are those who protest a policy toward minority groups that is administered by a policeman’s nightstick. We are those who feel attacked whenever the color of man’s skin or the color of his political beliefs is the official excuse for brutality, whether in Mississippi or in Harlem, whether at home or abroad.
We must go now into every building of this city, into every suburban home; onto every street corner. We must tell the people who we are. We will stand up and take the jeers of hirelings.
We must work—we will work, so that on Nov. 2, Americans can clearly choose.

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Henry A. Wallace, The Danger of American Fascism

img_0502The Danger of American Fascism, Henry A. Wallace.  An article in the New York Times, April 9, 1944.  From Henry A. Wallace, Democracy Reborn (New York, 1944), edited by Russell Lord, p. 259.

On returning from my trip to the West in February, I received a request from The New York Times to write a piece answering the following questions:
What is a fascist?
How many fascists have we?
How dangerous are they?
A 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 party.
The 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.
The 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.
If 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.
American 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.
The 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.
Fascism 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.
Still 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:
The 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 fact.
The 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.
Several 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.
It 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.
Democracy 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 people.
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 two things:
Speeds 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.
The 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 the world.
Fascism 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.
It 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 not fail.

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