Total Tim Powers Bait

Here’s a weird little footnote to American History: the Business Plot, in which some corporate types supposed conspired to stage a military fascist coup against FDR. Some alternate history writer has a novel waiting to be written.

  • Dan C

    While on the far right (which constitutes mainstream conservativism compared to 1988), FDR is a grand socialist and enemy of business, the left has always considered FDR as the Savior of capitalism.

    A large disaffected group of veterans were once encamped outside DC during the depression. Real communism was espoused in mainstream periodicals and on the streets of NYC. Anarchy (understood as a form of decntralized governing similar to the overvenerated libertarians on the right) had many adherents in the IWW.

    FDR saved capitalism in America.

    • Noah D

      FDR saved capitalism in America.

      I’m trying to square this with any version of reality, and failing. Are you saying that there was actually a serious, widespread, broadly popular movement towards communism in the United States that FDR opposed? In 1932, the CPUSA had 6000 members, but by 1938, they had 75,000. They loved the National Industrial Recovery Act. They went right into the AFL and CIO, providing organizers for both. They supported FDR and the Democrats as the ‘lesser of two evils’. And the Wobblies? They were broken by 1930.

      • Mark S. (not for Shea)

        FDR saved capitalism from itself. Capitalists had become so powerful and so unfettered that they were destroying the system that had built them. FDR saved that. The involvement of commies and former commies is beside the point.

        Have a look at the headlines these days. Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

        • Noah D

          The involvement of commies and former commies is beside the point.

          In Dan C’s argument, which is what I was refuting, it most certainly was not. He asserted that FDR saved capitalism from the threats of communism and anarchy.

          It also might be prudent, if Communists are loving what you’re doing, to re-evaluate what you’re doing.

          Capitalists had become so powerful and so unfettered that they were destroying the system that had built them.

          Huh? There had been nothing but reins and leashes put on business from the Interstate Commerce Act (1887) onwards, but it was the 1920s & 30s when they were ‘so powerful and so unfettered’? And after all those fetters, we manage to have a depression that lasts longer than any under (now unthinkably bad) laissez-faire capitalism? It sure took FDR a loooong time and a huge amount of debt (and a world war) to save capitalism from itself.

      • Dale Price

        David Kennedy makes that argument in “Freedom from Fear.” Basically, Roosevelt re-shuffled the deck, put a safety net below the high-wire act and made the participants wear harnesses (e.g., Glass-Steagall), but otherwise rebooted capitalism.

        It’s not entirely persuasive–Roosevelt’s rhetoric toward business was reminiscent of a pitchfork-wielding mob, certain of his regulatory schemes played haywire with any rational notion of business growth, and it took a massive re-armament program to get unemployment below 10%. But it certainly took the steam out of more radical voices, including some New Dealers, who wanted a far more left-leaning program than Roosevelt agreed to.

        That said, Noah has a point to a certain degree: the reaction of American workers to the Depression was more despair than radicalism. But there were radical voices promising sterner medicine, and they did get some traction: Sinclair, Long, and Coughlin, which Roosevelt used to position himself in the middle.

      • Ted Seeber

        Not really communism. But certainly a “Kill the rich and take their goods so that we can eat” populism. FDR was only saved from defeat at the hands of Huey Long by an assassin’s bullet on the later.

  • http://www.chesterton.org Sean P. Dailey

    It would really be Tim Powers bait if the businessmen were also vampires and Carl Sandburg or some other poet of the era came to FDR’s rescue.

  • j. blum

    There was the movie Seven Days in May, loosely based on the plot to seize the White House. The conspirators were turned in to Congress (in real life) by Marine General Smedley Butler, self-declared “gangster for capitalism” and author of War Is A Racket.

  • dpt

    History channel ran something on this a number of years ago.

    Of course FDR brought an element of fascism to the US in how Japanese-Americans were treated during his reign.