You are herecontent / The Danger of American Fascism

The Danger of American Fascism

By 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.


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Facing the Corporate Roots of American Fascism

"How is this history of relevance today?

Although all of the top U.S. fascists behind this 1930's plot are now dead, their corporations carry on. These companies, with their roots firmly planted in the fascist milieu of the 1930s, are now among the world’s wealthiest corporations. They continue to exert enormous influence over U.S. government policies, and – by extension – over global matters of war, peace and human rights.

Although those within the highest echelons of U.S. corporate power were willing to instigate a coup to take control of the White House, their plot against FDR was called off. As it turned out, an overt fascist coup was not actually necessary to attain their goals. The fascists behind the plot did eventually succeed in regaining their long-standing influence over the White House and American politics.

President George Walker Bush’s grandfather (Prescott Bush) and great grandfather (George Herbert Walker) were among Wall Street’s ultra-right wing elite. Before WWII, they were among the key players who coordinated the flow of investments from American multimillionaires into Germany. They profited by helping to coordinate the American financing behind Hitler’s rise to power. During the war, they even profited from companies that armed the Nazi war machine and used slave labour at Auschwitz. Then, after the war, Prescott Bush was instrumental in helping to launder Nazi loot for Fritz Thyssen, who was one Hitler’s earliest and richest industrialist backers.

The Bush family's illicit fortune, and their intimate connections to Wall Street and the intelligence community, were essential in launching Prescott Bush, his son George H.W. Bush and grandson George W. Bush, into politics and the oil industry...."

that this brand of American Fascism which Henry Wallace (a contemporary of FDR) warned us about sixty-two years ago is alive, well, and flourishing, and those who practice it are richly rewarded for doing so.

We have people who swear up and down that they aren't "fascists", but they gladly put money and power ahead of people and principle, as they fall for Al Gore and his "global warming" hoax which would wipe out millions of lives in Africa if his so-called "environmental" policies were to be implimented.

Then we have those who practice "religious fascism", by viciously attacking other religions while proclaiming that their religion (which is "Christian" strictly in name only) is the only "true" way to God. These "religious fascists" enthrall millions of people who see themselves as the innocent, insecure, virtuous "victims" of a mean world which despises them, and their hope is to make a "deal" with God for the satisfaction of their needs and wants, while at the same time, getting protection from those whom they believe want to destroy them.

The message which these "religious fascists" peddle has a great appeal to those who see themselves as victims, and those who find their message to be valuable are more than happy to hand over billions of dollars into the collection plates that the "religious fascists" like to pass around early and often.

And let's not forget the rampant fascism in the media, specifically in that pecular institution known as "talk radio". The dismissal of Don Imus for his racist, misogynistic comments about the Rutgers women's basketball team (which were made on the anniversary of the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, no less) was a mere drop in the bucket in comparison to the equally nasty and bigoted comments uttered almost daily by Michael Savage, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and others. These people have made equally bigoted, racist, misogynistic and homophobic comments, but they're allowed to peddle their odious brand of fascism without a murmur of complaint.

When you come right down to it, fascism has gained a resurgence because at the heart of it all, fascism is about money, power and the exercise of total control over those whom you see as "inferior" to you. The religious fascists love a theocracy where they control everything and everyone at God's special request, while other fascists are enthralled by the thought of being the sole controllers of money or power; a race or a class; a military, clique or an economic group; a culture, religion, or a political party.

Unfortunately, American fascism isn't wearing the black jack-boots, brown shirts and the emotionless stone-face of the Nazis; instead, American fascism wears the Stars and Stripes, carrying the cross of the crucified Christ in its hand, wearing a big smile and promising "peace, safety, security and salvation" if the sheep will but follow... and because we've failed to live out the principle of the General Welfare, while too many among us have malice toward all and charity for a few (or none), American fascism will become a comfortable way of life for those who will profit handsomely from it, and those who will support it, even though they are one who will bear the brunt of the misery which fascism brings.

"...their plot against FDR was called off. As it turned out, an overt fascist coup was not actually necessary to attain their goals. The fascists behind the plot did eventually succeed in regaining their long-standing influence over the White House and American politics."

Of course it wasn't necessary. FDR's socialism is just the other side of the coin. The most fundamental issue here is power. Roosevelt's regime expanded and consolidated power; better to take over the helm than sink the ship.

History offers a multitude of examples of the expansion of power through the welfare state. Bismark implimented the first social security system, primarily to placate and coopt bergeoning socialist sentiment. But as a true fascist, he carefully structured it to turn a profit, using actuarial experts to assure most would die before collecting as much as they payed in.

Of course, like socialized medicine in the near future here, it rode a wave of popular support to implimentation.

It is a foolishly superficial perspective that focuses on fascism, a mere stylistic and tactical distinction from socialism.

The fundamental problem is the expansion of authority.
"...Al Gore and his "global warming" hoax..."
are just one very pertinent contemporary example. How convenient a "truth" that the only solutions enviornmental "problems" entail---you guessed it!

More government, lots more government. And of course, green fascists, with their windmills and ethanol, competing for corn with the food supply.

Oh, BTW, are there any scientists out there who aren't being payed by the govenment to prove humans cause global warming?

Never mind, the MSM will just ignore them anyway, or occasionally misrepresent and slander them as kooks.

After all, we "know" humans cause global warming; as all the bureaucrats and the MSM say. So it must be true.

Meanwhile, back at social security watch, the U.S. system's time bomb ticker ticks on. While in Chile, social security continues to hum along smoothly, despite having been in the hands of greedy capitalists operating private, profit making pension funds for quite some time.

But don't worry kidz!!!! Big bother will provide you with "free" health care in the future. Something as important as medical care has to be managed by the government. Of course, you understand that if the government must take care of you, then the government will have to decide what you need.

It's a good thing the government runs all the schools, or we might not understand that in a free country, the government takes care of all our material needs.

Still, there are those who seem to think personsal liberties and governmental authority vary inversely. What a concept...

---The Bikemessenger


What makes attention to Global Warming a hoax? Just curious :)


What makes you think you must chose between socialized medicine and militaristic imperialism?

That's a false paradigm very much of the same nature as bush's claim that we have to fight "them" over there so we don't have to fight them over here.

We all know that those are not the choices we face. Rather, the choices we face are between fighting them BOTH over there AND over here or not fighting them at all.

The same is true of the choices you suggest. We need not surrender our autonomony domestically in order to achieve peace internationally.

Indeed, it is the very people that peddle the socialist lie about health care that given the opportunity, will keep agressive interventionism rolling along:

In the tradition of Woodrow Wilson, Henry Jackson, Lyndon Johnson, et al.

Other than having injected the elements of boorishness and incompetence, how has bush the lesser changed U.S. foreign policy from that of his two predecessors?

So why let the two competing statist factions frame the debate for you? They'd each rather see you in the other's camp than thinking for yourself.

Remember, in a free society, it's the GOVERNMENT that's afraid of the PEOPLE.

And is it a conicidence that ALL of the so-called "front-runners" amoungst the Rep/Dem presidential candidates draw the line with criticism of the CONDUCT of war? While the likes of Kuchinich and Paul are ignored, though they reflect the sentiments of the majority.

As to global warming. First of all, thank for your openness of mind. No G.W. per se is not a hoax. It would appear to be real. The hoax lies in the explanation.

The entrenched bureaucracy is determined to put over human causation as a forgone conclusion. But in fact, that is only established amoungst the mainstream of government-financed scientists.

They are probably sincere and earnest for the most part. However, they are employed by bureaucracies from the onset not to investigate the issue from a neutral perspective; they are employed to PROVE HUMANS CAUSE G.W.

The matter is so vague and of such great magnitude that any bias will tend to be self-fulfilling to some extent.

The fact that scientists are preponderantly on one side of the issue is a reflection of source and availablity of funding, not validity of argument.

The commentary attached to this article

is an excellent example of intelligent debate on the issue by clear-minded, well-informed scientists on BOTH sides of the argument. [The article itself, ironically is just a humdrum, prosaic anti-right rant.]

And BTW, if socialized medicine is such a great idea, then why does medical tourism ALWAYS move from areas of greater government control to areas of greater competition? From Canada to the U.S., and from the U.S. to Pacific Asia, for example.

---The Bikemessenger

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Speaking Events



August 2-6: Peace and Democracy Conference at Democracy Convention in Minneapolis, Minn.


September 22-24: No War 2017 at American University in Washington, D.C.


October 28: Peace and Justice Studies Association Conference

Find more events here.


Support This Site


Get free books and gear when you become a supporter.



Speaking Truth to Empire


Families United


Ray McGovern


Julie Varughese


Financial supporters of this site can choose to be listed here.



Ca-Dress Long Prom Dresses Canada
Ca Dress Long Prom Dresses on

Buy Books

Get Gear

The log-in box below is only for bloggers. Nobody else will be able to log in because we have not figured out how to stop voluminous spam ruining the site. If you would like us to have the resources to figure that out please donate. If you would like to receive occasional emails please sign up. If you would like to be a blogger here please send your resume.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.