Saturday, March 15, 2014

Unsanctioned Voice; Saturday Evening Post; George Lorimer; French occupation of Ruhr; Calvin Coolidge; Herbert Hoover; agriculture; H.A. Nestos

Click these links for discussions of the Writer's Note , Chapters 1 and 2, Chapter 3, Chapters 4-6, Chapters 7-10 , Chapters 11 and 12 , Chapter 13 and Chapter 14 of Bruce Ramsey's Unsanctioned Voice.

Chapter 15 deals with the beginning of Garrett's career with the Saturday Evening Post and Garrett's writings on the war debt.

Garrett's writings for the Post included a fictional piece in 1917 about a "clerk in a bond house who figures out during the gold run of 1895 that the government is bankrupt." (p. 97). I am sure that this work (like almost all of Garrett's Post writings) is available on microfilm in larger libraries.

Ramsey describes the Post articles as "long articles, written for a world before television, when Americans had the patience to read." (p. 97).

Ramsey quotes and cites (pp. 98-99) two Garrett Post articles about France's attempts to collect reparations from Germany by occupying the Ruhr in 1923. Garrett described his visit to the Ruhr during the occupation and German resistance to that occupation. The story of the French occupation is fascinating and virtually unknown in mainstream history discussion.

The articles cited regarding the war debt cover much of the same material that later appeared in A Bubble That Broke The World. Bubble was a reorganized compilation of writing that appeared in the Post in 1931 and 1932. Two of the (many) articles cited in end note #2 (p. 104) have similar titles to two chapters of Bubble. The chapters are undated in Bubble. Ramsey's research thus has helped provide more background for Bubble.

Ramsey's discussion of Garrett's writings on the war debt included Garrett's conversations and meetings with the famous and powerful. "From World War I through the 1930's Garrett had the closest contacts he ever would with high politicians." (p. 101). Chapter 15 would include references to Garrett's contacts and relationships with Bernard Baruch, Secretary of State Elihu Root, Post publisher George Lorimer, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, and Presidents Coolidge and Hoover. (pp. 99-101). Hoover and Garrett remained life-long friends. (p. 102).

Chapter 15 also includes Garrett's views on immigration (p. 102) and how a culture and nation can be changed irreversibly by unfettered immigration.

The chapter also sets forth Garrett's views on the Phillipines in the 1920's (pp. 102-103) and quotes liberally from The American Story (1955) on several subjects. Ramsey also refreshingly uses the word "nationalism" to identify concepts that modern orthodoxy attempts to denigrate with the misleading label "isolationism."

Chapter 16 deals with agriculture. Here, Ramsey confusingly uses "nationalism" to mean the opposite of "individualism" (p. 105) even though a government policy promoting and allowing individualism tends to make the entire nation strong. Nationalism and individualism go hand-in-hand.

Reading this and the immediately prior chapters gives one an appreciation of the size of the task confronting Ramsey. Most of the knowledge available about Garrett comes from his many articles, essays and columns. Ramsey had to find these items (presumably) on old library microfilm, print them from the old machines (an arduous task itself) and organize them by subject so that a larger picture of Garrett's (sometimes changing) views could be developed. End note #1 (p. 112) from Chapter 16 alone cites more than two dozen lengthy magazine articles written by Garrett. These and other articles and writings are then compressed and summarized in an 8 page chapter and integrated into the broader picture of Garrett's life in the 1920's.

Garrett wrote about agriculture's role in the bubble that burst in the early 1920's. He resisted attempts to create more federal involvement in farming and sparred with North Dakota governor H.A. Nestos over these and other issues. (pp. 105-109). Garrett owned his own farm in New Jersey. (pp. 109-110).

Garrett compared farming with railroads and lamented that federal controls had tamed the railroads. (pp. 110-111). Chapter 16 provides a preview of the federal controls that would come to farming with the New Deal in the 1930's. (p. 109).

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Unsanctioned Voice; Blue Wound; National Self-Containment

Click these links for discussions of the Writer's Note , Chapters 1 and 2, Chapter 3, Chapters 4-6, Chapters 7-10 , Chapters 11 and 12 and Chapter 13 of Bruce Ramsey's Unsanctioned Voice.

Chapter 14 contains Ramsey's discussion of Blue Wound. (My review of Blue Wound from 2007 begins here.)

Blue Wound is a 1921 novel that followed in the immediate aftermath of World War I. Garrett presented panoramic views of the distant past and lost civilizations while projecting then-current trends into the distant future. The reader, in 1921, was presented with descriptions of World War II (including conflicts with Germany and Japan) and technological advancement that would not actually exist until our own time. The reader would also confront America's later dependence on foreign countries for vital materials (a problem that did not exist in 1921). Garrett used these visions to demonstrate that the United States should remain self-sufficient so that it would not need to fight foreign wars and would be immune to foreign countries' attempts to dominate the United States through dominance of vital materials.

Ramsey focuses on Garrett's advocacy of self-sufficiency, but misses many of the best aspects of the novel. Many of Garrett's predictions - the history lessons, the ancient Rome analogy, the story of Japan's rise, the imagery of the rise and fall of cities - are missing from Ramsey's description.

Ramsey points out (p. 92) similar and overlapping concepts in Blue Wound, Ouroboros and A Time Was Born, including the idea of "national self-containment."

Ramsey finds "national self-containment" the "least attractive of his (Garrett's) ideas." Ramsey quotes (pp. 93-94) a 1940 Garrett column in which Garrett argues that Germany had ample opportunity for foreign trade and economic growth without going to war. Economics was thus not a justification for aggression. Nations could live in peace without fighting over resources. Ramsey found this argument (p. 94) inconsistent with Garrett's arguments for self-containment found in Blue Wound and elsewhere.

But Ramsey's argument (p. 94) misses a very important point. Nations might be aggressive even if it is not in their own economic best interest. We cannot expect foreign nations to act as would a corporation that answers to shareholders. Nations make war for religious or ideological reasons while sacrificing their own prosperity. (A similar concept is the U.S.' adoption and enforcement of Obamacare.) Can we ascribe economic motives to the constant war wrought by Islamic nations/movements or the totalitarian empires of the 20th century?

That nations need not make war for economic reasons does not mean that nations will not make war. That nations will make war means that other nations must protect themselves. Garrett's argument for self-containment is one such way that nations protect themselves. The United States might protect itself by becoming self-reliant, regardless of whether foreign aggressors come to believe in peace and economic freedom. Garrett was being descriptive in his discussions of the options that aggressor nations enjoy and the justifications (or lack thereof) for war. But Garrett was advocating specific policies for the U.S. The policies that Garrett recommended recognized the aggressive tendencies of enemy countries. It is not inconsistent to (1) recommend that the United States follow a self-reliant policy while (2) acknowledging that aggressor nations need not make that policy necessary.

update - click here for a discussion of Chapters 15 and 16 of Unsanctioned Voice.

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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Unsanctioned Voice; That Satan Said; Lincoln Steffens

Click these links for discussions of the Writer's Note , Chapters 1 and 2, Chapter 3, Chapters 4-6, Chapters 7-10 and Chapters 11 and 12 of Bruce Ramsey's Unsanctioned Voice.

Reading Unsanctioned Voice gives one an appreciation for how much of Garrett's work remains unpublished. The Garrett articles, columns and editorials from the New York Times and the New York Tribune are historically significant not only for an understanding of Garrett, but for a deeper understanding of World War I. While this material is apparently available for research, having it published in book form would be far better for promoting a broader historical perspective of Garrett and his times.

Chapter 13 provides another example of the need for more publication of Garrett's unknown works. Garrett wrote a play around 1920 entitled "That Satan Said." The play was never performed. Ramsey provides evidence that this play is somewhat autobiographical, especially as it relates to his second wife Ida (p. 83). The play seems very touching and I would enjoy reading it in its entirety.

I have written previously about the parallels between Garrett's and Ayn Rand's writings. "That Satan Said" provides another more obvious, if coincidental, similarity. Each of them wrote one play (although the plays are very different).

Ramsey also includes correspondence (from a decade later) consistent with the theme of this play (p. 86) between Garrett and writer Lincoln Steffens, as discovered in Steffens' papers.

It is my hope that someday this play will be published.

update - Click here for a discussion of Chapter 14.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Unsanctioned Voice; New York Tribune; World War I debt; Hearst newspapers; Louis Budenz; Daily Worker; Eugene Lyons; Red Decade

Click these links for discussions of the Writer's Note , Chapters 1 and 2, Chapter 3, Chapters 4-6 and Chapters 7-10 of Bruce Ramsey's Unsanctioned Voice.

Chapter 11 covers the period (1916-1917) when Garrett was the business editor at the New York Tribune. Garrett focused in this period on the effects of U.S. selling and manufacturing for the war. He noted rising stock prices (p. 67) and rising wages (p. 68). He questioned the true value of stocks notwithstanding then current stock prices.

He especially noted the elimination of U.S. debt, celebrating that "We owe the world nothing." (p. 69). He commented extensively on the U.S.' newfound status as a lender. He was unsure of how far we should go in lending for the war and the ability of the borrowers to repay the debt. Ramsey comments that Garrett did not ask what effect our possible entry into the war would have on repayment from the borrowers. (p. 69). Neither Garrett nor any other commentator anticipated our allies' eventual position that our entry into the war would somehow justify our allies' failure to repay the war loans. To understand the eventual default and the broader context of this issue, it is helpful to read The Bubble that Broke the World in conjunction with Chapter 11.

Garrett's thoughts on goverment regulation remained incomplete (and somewhat inconsistent) (pp. 70-71), as he had not yet experienced the New Deal and had yet to confront big government as the main threat to freedom.

In Chapter 12 Garrett becomes the managing editor of the New York Tribune (July 1, 1917). The United States entered the war in April 1917. Ramsey describes how Garrett used his position to support efforts to seek federal prosecution of the Hearst Newspapers for opposing the war and supporting measures that would hinder the war effort. (pp. 76-79).

It was clear from later writings (p. 79) that Garrett, by the late 1920's, had lost any enthusiasm for foreign wars and had firmly decided against the type of pro-war fervor that had carried away him and the Tribune during World War I.

On page 80 Ramsey writes and quotes the following about Garrett's views on foreign infiltration:

When World War II came, the loyalty issue came up again. In 1940, after Nazi Germany and Communist Russia had dismembered Poland, the Saturday Evening Post's editorial page, edited by Garrett, called for the banning of political organizations "subject to foreign influence," namely those Nazi and Communist. And during the loyalty drive during the first year of war in Korea, Garrett wrote:

Why do Americans embrace the Communist Party? And this is not the same as to ask why Americans embrace the philosophical idea of communism. That could be understood and there need be nothing alien about it. But an American who joins the Communist Party becomes in fact an alien. (reviewing Men Without Faces: The Communist Conspiracy in the U.S.A., by Louis Budenz (1950))(further citations omitted).
Since those days, we have learned that the Communist Party was, in fact, directed and financed largely by Moscow, which was then an enemy of the United States. To some people, that would make no difference in the rights of its members to advocate and engage in the American public square. To Garrett it did. [p. 80].
In fact, it was not "since those days" that we learned that Moscow directed the American Communist Party. This direction and control was known long before Garrett wrote his review of Budenz' (1950) book. In fact, Budenz had been a loyal Communist and the editor of the Communist Party Daily Worker for many years. Soviet control of the American branch of the party and the Daily Worker was the very point of Budenz' 1950 book.

Budenz had written and testified in Congress about this very point for several years:

Just as importantly, mainstream journalist Eugene Lyons had written his book-length study of the American branch of the Communist party in 1941 (The Red Decade), in which he thoroughly documented the extent to which American communists slavishly followed the Soviet party line on every issue - even to the point of alternately supporting and opposing Nazi Germany depending on whether the Soviets were allied with Germany at that moment. It was clear from Lyons' book that American communists did not base their decisions on their own opinions, but on the Russians' immediate diplomatic and military needs and on orders from Moscow.

Garrett's opinion expressed in his review of Budenz' (1950) book reflected thoroughly documented and publicized information that has since been forgotten or obscured. In fact, it is very difficult to read Lyons, Budenz and their contemporaries without reexamining all of our assumptions about that era.

Click here for a discussion of Chapter 13 of Unsanctioned Voice.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Unsanctioned Voice; World War I; Adolph Ochs; Gay Talese; Leo Frank; Walter Rathenau; New York Times

Click these links for discussions of the Writer's Note , Chapters 1 and 2, Chapter 3 and Chapters 4-6 of Bruce Ramsey's Unsanctioned Voice.

I catalogue these chapters so that I might find this information more easily at some future date and so that the information will appear online and can be cited, quoted or linked more easily.

Chapter 7 deals with Garrett's time on the editorial board at the New York Times in 1915 and 1916. Ramsey relies on Garrett's private journal for insights into Garrett's thinking during this time. Ramsey quotes a 1969 book by Gay Talese (The Kingdom and the Power) for some indication of Garrett's influence on the Times.

Chapter 8 (pp. 47-53) discussess the case of Leo Frank, a sensational murder trial that receieved national attention in 1915 and was the subject of much ink in the pages of the New York Times. Ramsey notes the personal involvement of publisher Adolph Ochs, the role played by Garrett, the changing positions of the Times and Garrett's frustration with the Times' focus on the Frank case instead of the ongoing diplomatic situation involving Germany and the war.

Chapter 9 provides more background into Garrett's thoughts on the war (pp. 55-59) during 1915, including his writing for the New York Times and his discussions with Adolph Ochs (as reflected in Garrett's Journal). Garrett's pre-war opinion on U.S. involvement was still developing at that time. It was nearly impossible in 1915 to foresee the broader context into which the war would fit (Federal Reserve creation, massive debt expansion to fund the war, credit expansion/bubble during the post-war period, bubble collapse leading to worldwide depression and the resulting massive government expansion in the 1930's). One obtains a much broader picture of the whole scenario from Garrett's Bubble that Broke the World a decade and a half later. It would have been difficult, in 1915, to fit the war into a larger scenario that, even today, continues to spiral out of control as the United States transitions to its eventual status as a bankrupt empire.

Chapter 10 continues the discussion of the war (1915-1916) and includes roles for Garrett beyond mere writing. In 1915, the Times sent Garrett to Germany to interview Walter Rathenau (p. 61), the head of Germany's war production. The interview lasted for hours and remained off the record. Rathenau was murdered in 1922. Garrett later included accounts of the meeting in The Saturday Evening Post (1940), Ouroboros (1926) and A Time Was Born (1944).

Garrett returned from Germany with a diplomatic message from Berlin, which the President refused to receive. Garrett instead presented it to the Secretary of State. Garrett was not optimistic that it would do any good. (p. 63).

The chapter concludes with Garrett's resignation from the Times in 1916 and hiring by the New York Tribune (p. 65).

Click here for a discussion of Chapters 11 and 12 of Unsanctioned Voice.

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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Unsanctioned Voice; U.S. Steel; Cinder Buggy; Where the Money Grows; Bernard Baruch; Federal Reserve gold notes; Henry Ford; World War I; Japan predictions

Click these links for discussions of the Writer's Note , Chapters 1 and 2 and Chapter 3 of Bruce Ramsey's Unsanctioned Voice.

Chapter 4 continues the narrative of Garrett's early career, including his move to Washington and then to New York in 1900, where he worked for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and other newspapers.

On page 21, (footnote 2) Ramsey cites to the unpublished manuscript of Garet Garrett's Journal by Richard Cornuelle. This Journal is another piece that I hope will one day be published. My only knowledge of it comes from the citations in Unsanctioned Voice. [Cornuelle is the only person that Ramsey found (50 years after Garrett's death) that knew Garrett well.] (p. x).

Ramsey speculates (p. 21) that the discussion in Chapter XLI of Cinder Buggy reflects Garrett's presence during the initial public discussions of the creation of U.S. Steel Corporation shortly after the turn of the century. Garrett wrote of these events prior to Cinder Buggy in two published articles. p. 26, n. 5. (I had been vague earlier in this blog about the facts of Chapter XLI so as to avoid plot spoilers.)

Ramsey refers (p. 22) to articles Garrett wrote in this era, including "fly on the wall" pieces. One such article related a fictional conversation between a banker and his speechwriter. It is my hope that these articles are eventually republished in book form, as I would enjoy overhearing any conversation where one talks candidly to his speechwriter - especially given the conduct of modern politicians.

Ramsey provides the background for the articles that comprised Garrett's Where the Money Grows (pp. 23-24).

Chapter 4 concludes with a discussion of Garrett's friendship and association with Bernard Baruch. Ramsey provides detail and sources more numerous than what I cited last month in this and other posts.

Chapter 5 contains many references to Garrett's columns and articles in the years 1909 - 1913. Ramsey makes the following comment about a Garrett piece on the income tax (which had been passed in 1913):

Years later his verdict on the income tax was that it had allowed government to grow into a giant. In 1913 his concern was narrower.
p. 31
This statement reflects Garrett's increased focus in the wake of the New Deal. I wrote about this greater focus in relation to Cinder Buggy:
The story will seem less focused than we might expect, as the New Deal was still a decade away at the time Garrett wrote Cinder Buggy. The New Deal drew the battle lines that define the eight decades (and beyond) that have since elapsed. From 1933 onward, economics and politics have been little more than a battle between those who favor greater government control over the economy and those who oppose such control. The battle takes many forms and is fought in many arenas, but the goals of the opposing sides remain the same (even though the opponents of gevernment control have substantially watered down their message as the decades have dragged on). A decade before the New Deal brought this battle to Washington D.C. (and beyond) in a permanent way, writers like Garrett wrote more generally and without the urgency and focus that we would expect of one who was trying to stop a government takeover.
I also wrote about the same thing with regard to Blue Wound (this post also quotes Jeffrey Tucker sounding a similar theme).

1913 was also the year of the passage of the Federal Reserve Act. Ramsey reports (p. 31) that Garrett's concerns were pacified when the final bill provided that Federal Reserve Notes would be backed 40% by gold and would be redeemable.

Chapter 6 begins (p. 35) with a discussion of a 1914 Garrett article about Henry Ford. The article was based on an interview, part of which was ultimately included in Garrett's 1952 biography of Henry Ford - The Wild Wheel.

Page 37 summarizes another 1914 article in which Ramsey writes, "Garrett explained that money is not wealth, but a claim on wealth, and that you do not add to wealth by creating more claims to it."

Upon the outbreak of war later that year, Garrett wrote, "War is a sudden and imperious customer in the world's markets, and will not wait its turn." Garrett went on to make accurate predictions about the economic effects of the war. [p. 37].

Garrett would make additional war predictions. In a 1915 article for Everybody's he wrote following:
. . . if the Unied States should seem to Japan to be thwarting her economic and political ambitions in Asia she would quickly fight us, not in sorrow for having to do it, but joyful of the opportunity. Then she would seize the Phillipines and then might California be afraid.
(as quoted by Ramsey on p. 39.)
Garrett made additional predictions regarding Japan in 1921 in Blue Wound.

Pages 39-40 contain quotes of Garrett's inconclusive thoughts on war and Christianity. I mention it here because Garrett seldom discussed religion.

Click here for a discussion of Chapters 7-10.

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Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Unsanctioned Voice; The Driver; Coxey's Army; run on gold; Pullman Strike

Click these links for discussions of the Writer's Note and Chapters 1 and 2 of Unsanctioned Voice.

Ramsey spent most of Chapter 3 discussing two passages from the The Driver that he believes reflect actual experiences that Garret witnessed in person.

While The Driver was a fictional story, Coxey's Army was an actual group and an actual event. I spent little time discussing it in my blog of The Driver because it had so little impact on the plot. I wrote briefly of the political attitudes expressed during the march and how those attitudes fit the political discussion early in People's Pottage.

Ramsey (pp. 13-16) believes that Garrett was present at the start of the Coxey march in 1894 (he would have been 16). That the description is so detailed with so little relation to the rest of the story serves as evidence that Garrett was relating his own experience. Ramsey fit this scenario very broadly into the basic outline of Garrett's movements during that general period.

Chapter 3 also quotes at length (pp.17-19) from The Driver's description of a gold run on the U.S. Treasury during this same period. I quoted this passage here. Ramsey believes that Garrett witnessed this event in person because the description is similarly vivid and because he wrote about it previously in his columns in the New York Times and the Saturday Evening Post. See p. 19, n. 6.

Ramsey also discusses Garrett's presence at the violent Pullman strike of 1894. pp. 16-17.

Click here for a discussion of Chapters 4-6.

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