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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