Sunday, September 13, 2015

Unsanctioned Voice; World War II, isolationism, wartime price and wage controls, Eugene Lyons, Red Decade, blacklisting, The Pathfinder, David Lawrence, wartime paper rationing

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 , Chapter 14 , Chapters 15 and 16 , Chapters 17-19 , Chapter 20 , Chapters 21 and 22, Chapters 23-25 and Chapter 26 of Bruce Ramsey's Unsanctioned Voice.

Chapter 27 discusses Garrett's opposition to the U.S. joining the fight in World War II prior to the Pearl Harbor attack.

Garrett decried [p. 191] the "contrary way" that FDR proceeded toward war - alternating between open advocacy for war and retreating from such advocacy. Despite Garrett's opposition, Garrett praised FDR for his ability to follow that clever strategy (necessitated by America's general opposition to war). What the book does not discuss is the role of the shifting Soviet alliances on American foreign policy. From the mid-1930's through mid-1941, Soviet policy toward Nazi Germany shifted several times (that is an understatement). The American left's attitude toward war and Germany shifted with it. Such shifts influenced FDR's foreign policy (though not completely). Eugene Lyons' definitive book-length study of these parallel shifts appears in Red Decade (1941). [These shifts also influenced Orwell's Animal Farm and 1984 and precipitated Orwell's break with leftism.] Any discussion of American attitudes regarding war during the 1930's that ignores the left's parallel shifts with Soviet policy will necessarily be incomplete and misleading.

Ramsey notes that Garrett advocated preparedness despite his anti-war position. [pp. 191-192]. Garrett thus stands in contrast to today's anti-war activists, who oppose the very concept of preparedness.

Garrett viewed Lend-Lease as the real declaration of war, even though it wasn't called by that name. A large part of Garrett's objection to FDR's policies was that FDR was committing the country to war without identifying his objectives. [pp. 193-194]. America was creeping toward war without realizing it.

"Garrett's sympathy was never with the dictatorships." [p. 194]. [Thus providing another contrast with the cold war peace movement.] Garrett attempted to raise money for Finland during this period, as Finland had been invaded by the U.S.S.R.

Garrett reluctantly supported wartime price and wage controls. [p. 195]. I believe that the architects of such controls had more ambitious goals in mind than the justifications that motivated Garrett. Ramsey references a 1943 book that takes the opposite view. While I might agree with Garrett's position as far as it goes, those who proposed and enforced the wartime price controls went much further than was necessary for prosecution of the war. The war was an excuse for further government crackdowns in the economy.

Garrett (and others) were purged from the Saturday Evening Post in March 1942, despite supporting the war after Pearl Harbor (p. 196). (Such support would also contrast Garrett with today's "progressives," many of whom would find any excuse to oppose American war efforts no matter how severely the U.S. was attacked). Page 197 describes Garrett's work as a laborer in a naval shipyard, other manual labor Garrett performed in his later years and cites correspondence with Bernard Baruch.

In chapter 28, we see that Garrett was blacklisted following his termination from the Saturday Evening Post, and that other groups and publications were unfairly labelled as pro-Nazi [p. 201]. As Ramsey writes, "The anti-New Deal newspapers - and there had been a lot of them in the 1930s - were mostly cowed by the government." [p. 201].

Ramsey describes Garrett's plan to buy The Pathfinder in 1943 (because an existing newspaper was permitted a paper allotment by the government, which a new publication would not have). [pp. 201-202]. The plan was thwarted by David Lawrence of U.S. News, who bought The Pathfinder first. As Garrett wrote to Herbert Hoover, Lawrence planned "to strangle The Pathfinder to death and use its paper for his own magazine and charge it all off on his tax sheet." [quoted by Ramsey, pp. 202, 203 n. 8]. How Lawrence's use of the wartime paper allotment in this way helped the war effort has never been explained. This incident helps explain how Garrett's theoretical justification for wartime controls [p. 195] falters in practical application. (Even though Garrett wrote of price and wage controls instead of rationing, all such controls are of a kind).

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