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Reading Unsanctioned Voice gives one an appreciation for how much of Garrett's work remains unpublished.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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