Chapter 18-Secret Weaponry

Chapter 18 of the book Fabian Freeway.

There was another secret weapon valued more highly than the atom bomb by Anglo-American Fabians of the New Deal era. Namely, the university professor, who, as the British Fabian Socialist philosopher, John Atkinson Hobson, had suggested was to be the future secret weapon of national strategy. A familiar of Justice Louis D. Brandeis and of the latter’s protégée, Felix Frankfurter, Hobson merely pointed up a trend that had been gaining momentum in America since the turn of the century. With the Roosevelt Administration, the liberal-to-Left professor moved into his prescribed orbit as the planner and guide of national policies based on Fabian research, which officials and politicians would trigger.

A trio of university professors played a major part in shaping the seemingly impromptu social, fiscal, legal and diplomatic strategy of the Roosevelt Administration and other Democrat administrations to follow. Two were British nationals, closely identified with the Fabian Society of London. The third was an American citizen of European origin who had helped to found organizations in this country known to be affiliates of the (Fabian Socialist) League for Industrial Democracy, (1) and who had been rebuked by former President Theodore Roosevelt, for his radical bias, as displayed in a government report.

All three were equally at home in the lecture halls of England and the United States; and though they held forth in many localities, all left a particular imprint on Harvard University. They were brilliant conversationalists, tireless letter writers and mental gymnasts of the first order, with a talent for gaining the ear of important persons and a calculated appeal to youth that has caused their influence to outlast their times. Their names were Felix Frankfurter, Harold J. Laski and John Maynard Keynes.

It has been admitted by New Deal insiders that FDR privately agreed, more than a year before becoming President, to sponsor the Tennessee Valley Authority project; the Agricultural Adjustment, Public Works and Conservation programs; Securities Exchange and Holding Company control; and something resembling the National Recovery Act.(2) He had also agreed to sponsor a system of social insurance leading to the welfare state. (3) If no hint of those intentions appeared in the Democratic Party platform of 1932, only the public was surprised by the rapid-fire developments following Roosevelt’s accession to power. The original brain trusters, who trailed him from Albany to Washington, knew what to expect. Their immediate problem was to discover ways of writing the new program of encroaching Socialism into law.

For that purpose it seemed natural to turn to Felix Frankfurter, Byrnes Professor of Law at Harvard University, whose specialty was administrative law. Preeminent among FDR brain trusters, he was a tiny figure of a man, with a large head and keen, dark eyes behind gleaming spectacles. Endowed with exceptional brainpower and adroitness, he had championed many Socialist-approved causes at the intellectual level without ever descending into the pit of Socialist Party politics.

Born in Vienna, Felix was brought to New York City by his parents at the age of twelve, speaking only German and Hungarian. By the time he was nineteen he had mastered the English language and graduated third in his class from the City College of New York. In 1906 he took his law degree at Harvard University, tutoring less talented students to help pay expenses. That was the year when the Intercollegiate Socialist Society founded a club at Harvard, with Walter Lippmann as president. According to Lippmann’s biographer, in 1909 Frankfurter often joined the club members for happy, discursive weekends at the Chestnut Hill home of Dr. Ralph Albertson, a leading Christian Socialist of the day. (4) Characteristically, Felix Frankfurter was never named as having been a member of the club in anniversary speeches and publications of the LID.

Only a few years later, however, he was intimately associated with Walter Lippmann as a co-founder of the New Republic —the liberal weekly designed as an American opposite number of the British Fabian Socialist New Statesman. In that capacity, Frankfurter made the acquaintance of the chief stockholder of the New Republic, Dorothy Whitney Straight, who married Leonard K. Elmhirst and moved to England in 1925. As Mrs. Elmhirst, she helped to endow a Fabian Socialist-sponsored front organization in England called Political and Economic Planning or PEP, which was organized as a “charitable trust” in 1931 and helped to devise plans for the New Deal in advance of FDR’s election.

Between 1916 and 1922 Frankfurter filed briefs in several important cases involving hours of labor and minimum wages. He gave legal advice in the famous Scopes trial defended by the Socialist attorney, Clarence Darrow; in the 1926 case of the Patterson, New Jersey silk mill strikers; and in the still more controversial Sacco and Vanzetti appeals of 1927. Frankfurter used, advocated and taught the technique initiated by Justice Louis D. Brandeis before the latter’s ascension to the Supreme Court. Known as the Brandeis Brief, it involved amassing a volume of factual, historical and/or pseudo-philosophic material and presenting it with the shortest possible legal argument. Prudently, Frankfurter disclaimed any strict adherence to Brandeis’ sociological approach to the Law, leaving that reputation to his colleague and bosom friend, Dean Roscoe Pound of Harvard Law School.

Instead, he professed a deep concern for procedural regularity, a difficult point with which to take issue. By invoking the Olympian names of Brandeis and Holmes as often as possible and discoursing in the loftiest philosophic vein, he almost succeeded in diverting attention from his own radical associations and purposes. Yet, as late as 1930, Frankfurter wrote that through the use of due process the justices could read their own economic and social views into the neutral language of the Constitution. (5) As a Supreme Court Justice, he was to lean heavily on the same due process clause precisely because of its flexibility, proclaiming it “the most majestic concept in our whole constitutional system.” (6)

Although he lacked practical experience in drafting legislation, for years Frankfurter had advised his students to familiarize themselves with the legislative process. With their assistance he duly became the legal progenitor of the New Deal. At FDR’s request, Frankfurter supplied his own handpicked former students for every key legal post in the new Administration so that he controlled, in effect, both the writing and interpretation of the new legislative measures. It almost seemed as if he had been preparing for such a contingency ever since his appointment to the Harvard Law faculty in 1914, and when the moment came, he was ready.

Believing that the past is prologue and that changes in juristic concepts must be initiated through the law schools, Frankfurter had always selected his pupils with care. His classes, according to the Harvard University catalogue, were “open only to students of high standing with the consent of the instructor.” The most promising were invited on Sunday evenings to the Frankfurter cottage on Brattle Street for extracurricular discussions on law and life. For the chosen few, Frankfurter’s supervision went far beyond the classroom and into their future careers.

Each year two honor graduates of Harvard Law School had been assigned, largely on Frankfurter’s recommendation, as secretaries to the liberal Supreme Court Justices, Louis D. Brandeis and Oliver Wendell Holmes. In 1933, at least eight of those erstwhile prodigies quickly became prominent in the New Deal Administration. Brandeis’ former secretaries included Dean G. Acheson, who served briefly as Roosevelt’s Under Secretary of the Treasury and at Frankfurter’s urging was later installed in the State Department; James M. Landis, Federal Trade Commissioner and co-author, with Benjamin V. Cohen, Thomas G. Corcoran and Frankfurter himself, of the Securities and Exchange Act; William Sutherland, counsel to the Tennessee Valley Authority; and Paul Freund, a lawyer in the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, who returned to teach at Harvard. Holmes’ former secretaries accounted for Thomas G. Corcoran of the RFC; Lloyd Landau and Donald Hiss of the Public Works Administration; and Alger Hiss of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, who went on to the State Department, the Carnegie Foundation—and ultimate disgrace. All were Frankfurter’s “boys.”

When the Tennessee Valley Authority was set up and needed an executive who was also a clever lawyer, Frankfurter produced David Lilienthal, whom he had previously placed with Wisconsin’s utilities control commission in training for just such a job.(7) To Agriculture, Frankfurter sent the aggressively liberal Jerome L. Frank; to Interior, he sent Nathan R. Margold; and to Labor, he sent Charles E. Wyzanski, Jr., more recently a trustee of the Ford Foundation and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. In those days it was said— apparently with good reason—that no New Deal department nor agency would hire a lawyer unless he was on Frankfurter’s “White List.”

The professor’s influence, however, was not limited to supervising legislation and selecting legal personnel. He was consulted on every major administrative move and Presidential statement. For some six or eight months after Roosevelt took office, Frankfurter commuted each week to Washington from Cambridge, Massachusetts. The White House door was regularly open to him, and no official doors were closed. Within the first “hundred days” most of the basic New Deal legislation had been written and passed—a task that would clearly have been impossible in so short a time if not partially mapped out in advance.

With America’s first Socialist-inspired government program staffed and operating, Frankfurter left to spend a year as visiting professor at Oxford University in 1933-3~an invitation conveniently arranged by Fabian admirers in England. His parting words to exuberant New Dealers reflected the mood of the Fabian tortoise. “Go slowly,” he warned, “go slowly.” In particular, Frankfurter advised delaying as long as possible a Court test of the National Recovery Act, whose constitutionality he doubted. This was strange advice from a man whose own highest ambition was to sit on the Supreme Court, and on any grounds of principle the advice seems hard to justify.(8)

By a telltale coincidence, Frankfurter’s words were echoed before the year was out by a minor British financier, Israel M. Sieff, long regarded as one of the Fabian Society’s more able permeators. On May 3, 1934, Congressman Louis T. McFadden of Pennsylvania told the U.S. House of Representatives that a certain Israel Moses Sieff of London, England had recently declared in a public speech: “Let us go slowly for a while, until we can see how our plan works out in America.”(9) Sieff belonged to the British organization, Political and Economic Planning or PEP, and the plan to which he referred was the New Deal. Why on earth, the Congressman wondered, should a British national living in London refer to the New Deal as “our plan”? Unintentionally, Sieff had revealed a relationship between Fabian Socialist planners in England and in the United States.

Political and Economic Planning (PEP), of which Sieff was a founder, sponsored social, industrial and political “studies,” apparently with a view to influencing official action as well as “opinion-forming” groups. Some of its findings were eventually published and some were not. Its method of work, which has never varied, was described in a prospectus, About P.E.P., distributed in 1956 by the organization itself:

“The method of work is to bring together as a group a number of people who are concerned professionally with one or another aspect of the problem under discussion, as well as a few non-specialists who can ask the fundamental questions which sometimes escape the experts. This technique enables P.E.P. to bring to bear on a problem the combined experience of men and women working in different spheres including business, politics, the Government and local authority services, and the universities. The groups are assisted by a paid research stat, who act as their secretaries and drafters. The names of those who form the groups are not disclosed and the results of their work are published on the authority of the organisation as a whole. This rule was adopted deliberately from the first and has proved of great value. It enables people to serve who would not otherwise be able to d-o so; it ensures that members can contribute freely to discussion without being bound by the official views of any body with which they may be identified ….”

“For the convenience of working members, a club was also formed in 1931 with rooms im the building at Queen Anne’s Gate. The P.E.P. Trust and the P.E.P. Club are separate institutions, although there is naturally a large common membership…. As regards the subjects for study, the Council of Management tries to pick those which seem likely to have reached the forefront of public discussion at about the time when the work has been completed and the findings published …. The aim throughout has been to maintain a balanced programme of social, industrial and general economic studies, chiefly in order that the work of particular groups may be guided by an understanding of national needs and resources as a whole.

“. . . income is derived in roughly equal proportions from donations (given mainly by firms in industry and commerce); subscriptions to the broadsheets; grants from educational foundations. Many of the donations are made under covenant, thus enabling P.E.P. to claim refund of income tax paid by the donors.” (10)

The rule of secrecy, governing the activities of PEP from the start, not only concealed its sources of inspiration, but allowed American planners to participate without attracting any special notice. It also made possible an exchange of ideas and personnel with the New Fabian Research Bureau, which was organized at about the same time. Prominent members of the organization over the years have included Sir Julian Huxley, Israel Sieff, E. M. Nicholson, Kenneth Lindsay, Thomas Jones, Jack Pritchard, A. D. K. Owen, Richard Bailey, J. B. Priestley—all identified more or less intimately with the Fabian Society, which by its own definition “consists of Socialists.”

One of PEP’s first and most faithful donors was the American-born Dorothy Elmhirst, whose British spouse was to serve from 1939 to 1953 as director of the organization. At her Devonshire estate, Dorothy Elmhirst welcomed Professor Felix Frankfurter, who had visited her on Long Island with Herbert Croly during the formative days of the New Republic. Frankfurter was greeted no less warmly in 1933-1934 by his roommate of World War I years in Washington, Lord Eustace Percy, as well as by old friends at the New Statesman, the London School of Economics and the New Fabian Research Bureau. All exemplified for Frankfurter “those civilized standards of English-speaking people” which he was so eager to apply in America.

Political and Economic Planning was evidently conceived as a polite transmission belt for ideas and plans originating in the New Fabian Research Bureau. That is not to say its membership or donors’ lists were 100 per cent Fabian. On the contrary, a number of honestly liberal or conservative business firms and individuals were persuaded, at one time or another, to lend their names and to contribute funds to PEP projects. Whether they hoped to improve their own public image or were merely seeking information, they were charmed by the urbane manner, discreet privacy and studious pretensions of Political and Economic Planning. While their presence lent weight to PEP pronouncements, such persons still remained outsiders. They had little to do with selecting the subjects for survey, and no voice in the conclusions reached. For all practical purposes, the internal operations of the group were controlled by the Management Council and the permanent, paid office staff.

Political and Economic Planning was one of the earliest Fabian Socialist front organizations to employ the device of bringing together business men, public officials and professional intellectuals for planning and propaganda purposes. A forerunner of that mixed society which was to effect a “humane” transition to Socialism, the organization served the Fabians as an instrument of peaceful permeation and penetration, both in government and private industry. Its initial object was to secure coordination between Socialist planners in the United States and the United Kingdom, leaving emulation on an Empire-wide scale to come later.

A PEP document issued in 1931, under the title Freedom and Planning, had recommended setting up National Councils in Agriculture, Transport and Coal Mining—resembling the industry-wide councils afterwards set up in the United States under the National Recovery Act. The manufacturer was to be regulated through national planning. Waste in distribution was to be eliminated through a system of department and grocery store chains. The individual farmer would be told just what and how much he could plant. Large tracts of land were to be acquired by the Government, and publicly-owned electric power plants were to be administered by a government utilities trust. It was such recommendations, contained in PEP’s Freedom and Planning, that obviously emboldened Israel M. Sieff to refer to the New Deal as “our plan.”

Both in form and method of work, Political and Economic Planning was a pilot organization. Aside from the influence it boasted of exerting on the architects of the New Deal, the organization also became the model for a whole series of similar and related organizations in this country which by now have acquired almost mystic prestige. Some of the group’s present-day American offshoots specialize in economic and social studies; some in foreign affairs; some in world government schemes. All aim to affect national policy and to shape public opinion, while remaining immune from public control.

An immediate American counterpart of PEP was the National Planning Association, quietly reorganized m 1934 after Felix Frankfurter’s return to the United States. The new organization was reputedly financed by grace of Dorothy Elmhirst. It included New Deal officials, trade union leaders, business men and publicists, with a solid core of League for Industrial Democracy regulars. (11) Israel M. Sieff kept in touch during frequent trips to America. Sometimes he was accompanied by Leonard K. Elmhirst long time chairman of PEP. (12) A lineal descendant of both PEP and the National Planning Association is the Committee for Economic Development founded in 1941.

The National Recovery Act was duly declared unconstitutional in 1935 by unanimous decision of the Supreme Court. The Bituminous Coal, Agricultural Adjustment and National Labor Relations Acts suffered a similar fate by majority vote. A fresh legislative approach to the question of planned Federal control over industry and agriculture was urgently needed to salvage the main features of the New Deal program. It was supplied through the novel application of a provision in the Constitution empowering the Federal Government to regulate interstate commerce: an application that in its manifold effects is a far cry from any intention entertained by the Signers.

For this ingenious advice, FDR was obligated to Felix Frankfurter who continued to make himself available in a supernumerary capacity. Somewhat against his own better judgment, the little law professor also supported Roosevelt’s ill-fated attempt to pack the Supreme Court —though Frankfurter felt that time and new appointments could be depended upon to provide justices more nearly subservient to the Executive will. For service rendered, he was finally rewarded in 1938 with the fulfillment of his heart’s desire: a seat on the Supreme Court.

In that sheltered eminence Frankfurter could enjoy the prerogatives for which he had apparently yearned. Making some obvious concessions to the traditional aloofness of the Supreme Court, he appeared less frequently at the White House and proffered less direct advice; but when he did speak, he was listened to! (13) It was on Frankfurter’s recommendation that FDR dispatched Harry Hopkins to England even before the Lend-Lease Act had been passed. (14) And it was invariably Frankfurter who took a final, critical look at President Roosevelt’s major policy speeches and “fireside chats” before they were delivered. Frankfurters lifelong friendship and daily morning strolls with his Georgetown neighbor, Dean Acheson, whose rise in the State Department hierarchy he sponsored, are credited with having had a profound effect on American foreign policy—especially during those years when Presidents Roosevelt and Truman were delivering the hegemony of a large portion of the globe to Soviet Russia and Communist China.

Officially, the Supreme Court remained Frankfurter’s prime field of concentration until his retirement in 1961—as it had been the chief subject of his studies and published articles prior to his elevation to the Supreme Court. During his tenure, the quality and temper of that once-August body altered visibly, and its “law-making” function was emphasized at the expense of the legislative power of the Congress. Though Frankfurter’s role was conveniently veiled by the secrecy governing the Supreme Court’s deliberations, it has been a potent one. There he could contribute obliquely, whether by his own action or his influence on less learned colleagues, to the gradual decline of that separation of powers inherent in the Constitution, which has been recognized since 1898 by British Fabians as the most serious obstacle to the advance of Socialism in America.


Among the self-proclaimed liberals and progressives clustered around FDR, most of whom dissembled their Socialist purpose for reasons of practical politics, Harold J. Laski was a bird of gaudier plumage. He was the popular image of the Red Professor, who could never resist airing his views in or out of season. Laski made no secret of his Marxist beliefs and openly advocated social revolution, whether by consent or by violence. Anyone who adopted him as a pet, solicited his articles, promoted him as a teacher of American youth, or listened seriously to his ideas on national or international policy, at least had no illusions as to where Laski stood. Possibly the only fact about him not fully advertised was his connection after 1940, with the Fabian International Bureau.

Precocious child of a middle class merchant in Manchester, England, Harold Laski joined the Fabian Society at Oxford and to the end of his life remained one of its most vocal members. Declared unfit for military service in World War I, he took a teaching post at McGill University in Canada. There he was speedily discovered by Norman Hapgood, a Hearst magazine editor of Socialist leanings, who made a special trip from Toronto to Montreal to meet Laski. Hapgood described this “extraordinary, brilliant young man” to Felix Frankfurter, who obtained an instructorship for Laski at Harvard in 1915 and became his closest friend. The following summer, to supplement a minute income, young Laski was also provided a job in Philadelphia cataloguing the papers of the deceased soap magnate, Joseph I. Fels.

During the four years he taught at Harvard, Laski edited the Harvard Law Review, devoting a whole issue to Duguit, the father of Soviet law, and began studies for a doctorate which he never completed. He contributed articles frequently to the New Republic; flashed like a comet across the Left Wing intellectual scene in Boston and New York; and wrote a rather pretentious book Authority in the Modern State, which he dedicated jointly to Felix Frankfurter and Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. Laski’s May-and-December friendship with the aging Holmes has been widely publicized. Disingenuously, Laski once advised him to read the History of the Fabian Society by Edward R. Pease—”rather a pleasant book in its way.”(15)

Tired, bored and seeking mental diversion, Holmes took “great pleasure” in the “dear boy’s” companionship and phenomenal display of learning. Laski, like Sidney Webb, had a photographic memory. It enabled him to quote whole passages from the most recondite works, even citing the pages on which they appeared. An inveterate namedropper, he also had a lifelong tendency to recall meetings with the great that never happened—and in which, of course, he figured to advantage. Since he told a good story, and since he actually did know a surprising number of distinguished persons for one so young, his admirers condoned that harmless mythomania. (16)

When he went to teach at Harvard, Laski was just twenty-two. Frail, undersized and looking even smaller in his dark English suits, he had the air of a preternaturally wise child, mostly head, eyes and round horn-rimmed glasses. Appearing anything but dangerous, he still managed to attract an immoderate amount of attention, as he was destined to do all his life. This was not only because of his conspicuous gifts, but also because of the opinions he felt called upon to impart on a wide range of controversial topics—particularly, the Russian Revolution.

While he had his defenders, Laski provoked a good deal of spontaneous resentment among the general student body, which devoted an entire issue of the Harvard Lampoon to attacking him. He won notoriety in Greater Boston by getting himself involved in the police strike of 1919. Though never officially asked to leave Harvard, even his best friends agreed at the time it might be wiser for him to move on.

Leading lights of the Fabian Society made a concerted effort to find the proper niche for Harold at home. His sponsors included Graham Wallas, then lecturing in New York at the New School for Social Research; Sidney Webb, supreme pontiff of the Fabian Society; and Lord Haldane, a governor of the London School of Economics, who had just allied himself publicly with the Fabians and the British Labour Party. (17) With their backing, Laski was offered a place at the London School, and in a very few years inherited Graham Wallas’ chair of Political Science. To qualify for the promotion Laski wrote a massive tome, The Grammar of Politics, which started by taking gradualist Socialism for granted and ended with a frankly Marxist position. Praised by Sidney Webb, it became a standard university textbook, replacing nineteenth century texts on political science just as it has since been replaced by more fashionable Socialist works.

Laski’s highly personalized method of teaching—a technique similar to G. D. H. Cole’s in England and Felix Frankfurter’s in the United States—gained him fervent followers among the young people who Hocked to study under him. They came not only from the United Kingdom but from Asia, Africa and America, in the decades when Rockefeller Foundation grants were helping to build the London School of Economics into a world center of Socialist instruction. Laski’s classes were filled to overflowing with students of every hue and color, and they stood in line outside his office waiting to consult him.

Consciously he strove to instill his own Marxist doctrines in future leaders of revolutionary movements from outposts of tale Empire which he hoped and schemed to dissolve. Tom Mboya of Kenya’s African National Union Party and the saturnine Krishna Menon of India were among the pupils whose contact with him outlasted their university days. At one time, it was said, most of the senior civil servants in Nehru’s government were former students of Laski’s. Of the young men indoctrinated by him at the London School, not a few occupy top posts in their own countries today—especially in the so-called developing nations.

Outside of the classroom he agitated ceaselessly in public lectures, periodicals and personal correspondence for one burning global issue after another—Freedom for India, Ethiopia, the Spanish Loyalists— and generally urged cooperation between Liberals, Socialists and Communists. He served with Leonard Woolf and John Strachey as a director of the strongly pro-Soviet Left Book Club. Though the director of the London School, Sir William Beveridge, expressed some fear that Laski’s outspoken hostility to the capitalist system might discourage the flow of contributions, such fears proved groundless. A total of $3,000,000 for buildings, research and general expenses was donated by the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Fund and the Rockefeller Foundation to the London School from 1924 through 1949, while Harold Laski served in its department of Political Science.

Like G. D. H. Cole—an equally avowed Marxist, and a pedagogue whose influence on the coming generation of Fabian Socialist leaders rivaled Laski’s—he frankly aimed to mold the minds of future government officials at home and abroad. Britain’s post World War II Foreign Minister, Socialist Ernest Bevin, who did not always see eye to eye with Laski, once told a Labour Party Conference: “If it’s the universities that are to be criticized, well, put up a vote of censure on Harold Laski, because it’s the product of the universities I have got to accept!”(18)

Laski’s influence on alumni of the mines, shipyards and factories in Britain was also considerable. Despite his reputation for intellectual snobbism, a number of trade union officials who rose to government office with the British Labour Party regularly turned to him for advice. Emanuel Shinwell of the Miners’ Union, for example, who enjoyed quite a reputation as a revolutionary agitator, wrote in his autobiography: “My mind was finally made up after a conversation with my late friend, Harold Laski . . . I lifted up my telephone and spoke to Atlee. I told him I would accept the Secretaryship of State for War.” (19)

While Laski never aspired to nor accepted political office himself, he remained an audible offstage presence, irritating at times to the old pros of the Parliamentary Labour Party but impossible to ignore. In 1932, he joined a little group of militants inside the Labour Party who called themselves the Socialist League; and, in 1937, he signed their Unity Manifesto urging a united front in Britain between Labour and the Communist Party against Fascism. Significantly, most of the Labour Party members signing that petition were intellectuals and outstanding figures in the Fabian Society.(20)

After the Popular Front movement in which he was active had been forcibly dissolved, Laski still argued in 1939-40 for a friendly attitude toward Soviet Russia, no matter how badly that country had behaved in Finland, Poland and the Baltic States.(21) In February, 1941, he initiated a correspondence with Herbert Morrison, Fabian Socialist Home Secretary in the coalition Cabinet of Winston Churchill, to make sure that the “civil rights” of Communists in wartime Britain were being protected. Following Hitler’s invasion of Russia, Laski was one of the first and most ardent spokesmen for all-out aid to the Soviet Union, with a view to securing Russian cooperation in a postwar Socialist world.(22)

From 1939, Laski sat on the Executive of the British Labour Party. Under the prevailing system of rotation, he automatically became its chairman in 1945–the year in which the Party rode to power on the strength of its deceptive promise to abolish poverty. Chairman of the Labour Party’s campaign committee and policy subcommittee in that critical election year was Herbert Morrison, by then on exceedingly close terms with Laski.

Following the Party’s victory at the polls, Professor Laski made an astounding proposal to Clement Attlee, its Parliamentary Leader since 1935. He invited Attlee to abdicate and allow the incoming parliamentary majority to elect a leader—presumably Herbert Morrison, to whose campaign aid a number of the newly elected Labour M.P.’s owed their seats and who, in Laski’s opinion, would have made a much better Prime Minister than Attlee. While not unconstitutional under British law, a more inept suggestion has rarely been offered by a political pundit.

Curtly, Attlee replied, “Dear Laski, I thank you for your letter, contents of which have been noted.” (23) When Ernest Bevin, boss of the powerful Transport Workers’ Union, learned of the “chicanery,” he moved promptly in Attlee’s behalf and no more was heard of the matter. Needless to say, this bit of backstage business did not endear Laski to Prime Minister Attlee or Foreign Minister Bevin, and effectively precluded him from becoming personal adviser-in-chief to the Labour Party Government as he so ardently longed to be.

For all that, Laski could neither be ignored nor suppressed. From 1946 to 1948 he was voted chairman of the London Fabian Society, which supplied the plans, legislation and key personnel for the Labour Government in Britain and to which over two-thirds of its parliamentary majority belonged. Moreover, Laski was idolized by foreign Socialists, a number of whom held cabinet rank in their own countries after the war—especially in France, Belgium, the Scandinavian countries and in Czechoslovakia, where Laski advised the Benes Government to cooperate with the Communists. Followers of Pietro Nenni in postwar Italy hailed him as “a figure comparable with Marx in the intellectual history of Socialism.” Despite his ineptitude in practical affairs, to the end Harold Laski remained a symbol of the International Socialist Professor, who used his connections abroad to affect the course of British policy when deterred from doing so at home.

Never admitting that a man cannot serve two masters, Harold Laski often referred to the United States as his second country. Few Americans even in his own time realized how large a part of his adult life was spent in the United States, or how deep a swath he cut in both educational and governmental circles in America. Of his thirty-odd year teaching and advisory career, it is estimated that almost one third was spent in North American colleges and universities, either as a visiting professor or special lecturer.

Following his early fiasco at Harvard, Laski was to return to this country again and again as a paid and feted guest. He gave a series of formal lectures at the Universities of North Carolina and Indiana; taught for a semester in 1939 at Columbia University Teachers’ College; lectured more briefly at Yale and at Princeton’s bicentennial, and at the State Universities of Washington, Oregon, California and Colorado; and in 1948 Laski debated Senator Robert Taft at Kenyon College in Ohio. Of course, he made numerous appearances at the New School for Social Research in New York City where he helped to organize a group of Socialist refugee professors.

After World War II he spent some time at Roosevelt University in Chicago where his disciple from the London School, Professor Herman Finer, also held forth. Laski’s final tour in the United States was made under the auspices of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers, to deliver the Sidney Hillman Memorial Lectures, jointly sponsored by that Socialist-directed union and local institutions of higher learning from coast to coast.

More frankly Marxist in doctrine than some other members of the London Fabian Society, Laski’s lectures and writings conveyed a revolutionary message not necessarily couched in Marxist jargon. If it was true, as his friend Louis Fischer once wrote unkindly, that Laski lived increasingly in an “intellectual ghetto” on his visits to the United States, geographically the area was widely dispersed. Across the years he developed connections in the academic life of America enjoyed by few other foreign professors, and he recruited an army of followers among faculty and students. Though Laski seemed to cause only a passing furore at womens’ clubs and university pink teas, in the long run he built up a serious network of Socialist propagandists and Soviet sympathizers, many of whom are still active in education and politics today. In falling heir to Graham Wallas’ chair at the London School, Harold Laski also inherited Wallas’ function as the London Fabian Society’s foremost missionary to America’s colleges and universities.

In 1929, Laski contributed a significant article to The Socialism of Our Times, the symposium edited by Harry W. Laidler and Norman Thomas and issued by the League for Industrial Democracy. (24) Some of the points contained in that article had previously appeared over his signature in Harper’s magazine for June, 1928, and subsequently reappeared mor concretely in the programs of the New Deal.

Specifically, Laski urged Socialists to take the initiative in sponsoring an eventual Federal program of “social insurance” leading, as always, to the welfare state. He supported municipal ownership of public services, such as gas and electricity, street railways and savings banks, “to demonstrate the superiority of collectivism to the average voter.” He advocated for the courts in America, “reform” such as his good friend, Felix Frankfurter, was then attempting on a state-wide scale for Governor Franklin Roosevelt of New York. Above all, Laski advised Socialists to agitate endlessly in favor of taxation for social—not merely administrative—uses. “Pressure for higher taxation on unearned and larger incomes is vital,” he wrote, [with] “amounts so raised to be used as grants in aid to the States for social purposes.” (25) What Laski did not say, was that the lion’s share of any funds raised for such purposes would still have to come from the pockets of the working people—since taxes on the rich, however punitive, would never suffice to pay for the program.

In conclusion, he stated: “I feel strongly the impossibility of American political institutions today, from the angle of a movement toward Socialist measures. The separation of powers is the protective rampart of American individualism.(26) This is interesting in view of Laski’s prolonged intimacy with Felix Frankfurter, who became a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Laski was a periodic house guest of Frankfurter in Cambridge and later in Washington, and for a quarter century carried on a voluminous correspondence with his “dearest Felix” that kept the latter constantly informed on the Fabian Socialist outlook in London. Those letters, profusely quoted in Laski’s biography by Kingsley Martin, editor of the New Statesman, also included comments and recommendations on American policy which Frankfurter was in an unrivaled position to transmit to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Professor Laski’s politico-social fellowship with Felix Frankfurter and Evans Clark of the Twentieth Century Fund cannot be discounted as a merely personal association. For Laski, like G. D. H. Cole, Graham Wallas and the Webbs, was first, last and always a professional revolutionary of the gradualist school. Every private contact he cultivated and virtually every line he wrote in his microscopic handwriting, no matter how heavily coated with endearments, was as charged with political intention as a telegraph cable is charged with electricity.

His intimacy in America with members of the original Roosevelt brain trust in Albany, plus his close connections in London with Israel Sieff and the founders of PEP, gave him a matchless opportunity to synchronize the ideas of British and American Fabian Socialists in formulating plans for the New Deal. Inevitably, he was aware that FDR would be pushed as the Democratic Party’s candidate for the Presidency, long before the American public had any knowledge of it.

Laski was in the United States in 1928-29 following FDR’s election as Governor of New York, and again in 1931, returning to deliver a Kingsway Hall lecture in London on “The American Collapse.” (27) He was in America during the fateful first “hundred days” of 1933 and reported his observations briefly at a Fabian Society evening social. (28) Soon after the National Recovery Act was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, Professor Laski spoke at a Fabian Society Friends’ Hall lecture on “The Failure of the American Experiment.” He {rayed the United States Constitution as a class document, calling it “Capitalism’s strongest safeguard on earth today”; and added that Roosevelt was America’s sole bulwark “against the Fascist form of Capitalism.” What was needed both in America and England, he claimed, was a united front of all liberal and left wing groups (including the Communists) to “save Democracy.” Either Capitalism or Democracy would prevail, he said, in America as in Europe—a strange species of political science, equating democracy with the Socialist commonwealth.(29)

Precisely when, where or how Professor Laski first met Franklin D. Roosevelt is not recorded by their official biographers. Evidently the two were introduced by a trusted mutual friend—generally believed to have been Felix Frankfurter—under casual and informal circumstances. Their original encounter could have taken place during any one of Laski’s frequent trips to the United States in the late nineteen-twenties or early nineteen-thirties. Eleanor Roosevelt was not present, for she stated in 1956 (30) that she had never met Laski but believed he was “honest”—a characteristic non sequitur! Nevertheless, it is recorded that the honestly Marxist professor paid a number of calls on FDR at his office in the White House; was acquainted with the Roosevelt daughter, Anna; and was the recipient of warm and approving personal letters from the President himself.

The extent to which Professor Laski and his ideas were persona grata at the White House from the very outset of the Roosevelt Administration can be gauged by the fact that Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. sent his two eldest sons to study under Laski at the London School of Economics. No Marxist himself, the senior Kennedy was already several times a millionaire. The stock market crash of 1929 and the ensuing depression had shaken Kennedy’s confidence, however, in the durability of the capitalist economy, although he suffered no serious financial loss and was even reputed to have made money by selling short on the market.

During 1932 Kennedy, Sr. was quoted as saying that he would gladly sacrifice half his fortune in order to save the other half for his children—a pledge which he was, happily for him, never called upon to fulfill. In that frame of mind, he traveled aboard the original Roosevelt campaign train and contributed generously to FDR’s election. While waiting to succeed James M. Landis, Dean of the Harvard Law School, as head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Kennedy pere offered up his firstborn as an ideological hostage. During 1933-34, in the interval between his graduation from Choate School and matriculation at Harvard, Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. was sent to study political science at the London School. He made the grand tour to Moscow under the chaperonage of Professor and Mrs. Laski. (31)

According to the Harvard College De-cennial Report on the Class of 1938, Joe’s year at the London School,

“was a tremendous experience, as it was under Professor Laski that young Joe developed his dominant ambition to devote himself to a career in public service. Indeed, referring to Joe’s interest in politics, Professor Laski speaks of his determination to be nothing less than President of the United States.” It was this interest that was to guide his studies at Harvard . . . and which dominated his whole life after graduation in 1938.”

In 1940, as a junior member of the Massachusetts delegation to the Democratic National Convention, young Joe resisted the pressures for a third term “draft” of President Roosevelt and bravely cast his vote for James M. Farley. Though he may not have realized it at the time, that vote ended Joe Kennedy, Jr.’s hopes for a political career via the Democratic Party almost as effectively as his subsequent tragic demise in a World War II bomber over Germany.

There was a second Kennedy son, however, who did almost everything that Joe did, being the understudy of his admired older brother. In 1934-35 he, too, went to learn about politics from Professor Laski in London. Imitatively he was no less affected by the experience than Joe, Jr. had been, even though he did not complete the full scholastic year owing to an attack of jaundice. When Joe, Jr. was killed in action during World War II, it was Jack who stepped into his brother’s shoes and achieved his brother’s hoped-for political role. Thus Professor H. J. Laski, British Fabian Socialist and self-proclaimed Marxist, had the rare distinction of helping indirectly to select and to educate two Democrat Presidents of the United States: Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy

Probably Laski’s most prized contribution to the domestic policies of the New Deal was the idea of using Federal tax-moneys as grants in aid to the States for social purposes. Eagerly adopted by New Deal strategists and never legally challenged to this day, Laski’s suggestion proved remarkably useful to FDR in perpetuating both himself and the Democratic Party in office.

As the apparent author of that handy device, Laski became a special favorite of President Roosevelt. In a letter of January 10, 1939, FDR wrote Professor Laski that he would be “honored and happy to have you dedicate the little book to me.” (32) The book in question was a series of essays entitled The American Presidency. Three weeks later the American President again wrote to Laski, then in Seattle, thanking him for a reprint of one of the essays and saying: “Come and see me as soon as you get East.” (33) The book was published in 1940, the year when Roosevelt ran for a third term in defiance of all previous Presidential tradition.

Complaints about Laski, no matter how valid, never reached the American people, entranced as they were by the beneficent father-image of FDR that New Deal psychologists had created. On January 14,1941, Congressman Tinkham of Massachusetts read into the House Record a warning by Amos Pinchot, disillusioned former Socialist and brother of Pennsylvania’s liberal former Governor. Somewhat belatedly, Pinchot pointed out that Laski and other English radicals were working on President Roosevelt with the object of introducing Socialism into the United States. He stated boldly: “Many young Socialists declare that what is generally called the Roosevelt Program is in reality the Laski Program, imposed on New Deal thinkers, and finally on the President, by the London Professor of Economics [sic] and his friends.”

Still the great voting public in America remained unaware of Laski’s existence: he was caviar for the intellectual elite. After Roosevelt’s death, Congressman Woodruff of Michigan published an extension of remarks in the House Record of February 6, 1946, denouncing Laski and to a lesser extent Lord Keynes. The Congressman declared that Professor Laski had for some time “had a backdoor key to the White House.” And he added, “a surprising number of us, Professor, have begun to think it is time to change the lock.”

Such rare observations, while correctly assessing the general influence of British Fabian Socialists on the New Deal and its successor, the Fair Deal, were weakened by a lack of corroborative detail. They failed to note that a number of the ideas advanced before 1940 by Professor Laski and his friends originated in the New Fabian Research Bureau, and after 1940 mirrored programs of the Fabian International Bureau and the Socialist International. Moreover, patriots of an earlier day were hampered by not having access to the Laski-Frankfurter and Laski-Roosevelt letters—which have since been quoted in part by the Professor’s friendly biographer, Kingsley Martin, although never revealed in their entirety.

Even Robert Sherwood’s heavily documented volume, Roosevelt and Hopkins, which appeared in 1948, omitted any mention of Harry Hopkins’ talks with Laski during Lend-Lease taps to England. Himself a New Deal henchman, Sherwood scrupulously avoided pointing out that Hopkins’ views on wartime aid to Russia coincided with the opinions expressed by Professor Laski both in letters and in print. (34) In fact, Harold Laski’s name was not even listed in the index of the Sherwood opus. Yet President Roosevelt, replying to a letter from Laski after America’s entry into World War II, wrote: “Dear Harold, So good to hear from you again. Hopkins has already told me of his visit with you, and everything reported to me checks with the many things you told me.”(35)

Again and again during World War II, Laski asserted that it was the duty of a popular leader to lay the foundations for postwar Socialism. (36) In that way, social revolution might be brought about by popular consent—perhaps simultaneously in many countries. (37) This Fabian Socialist design also involved preserving, at any price and any sacrifice, the friendship of Soviet Russia; for the kind of postwar world that Laski envisioned presumed something more than superficial coexistence with the USSR. The question of Allied war aims became the main burden of his articles in both British and American publications, as it was of his private correspondence.

After Hitler’s invasion of the USSR, Laski argued that the future depended on America’s and Britain’s ability to convert a temporary wartime alliance with the Soviet Union into a lasting postwar partnership. No guarantees of good faith were required from the Soviets. The immediate program of wartime assistance must be such as to convince Communist leaders that the capitalist nations were their loyal allies, and that they would only make peace on terms acceptable to Soviet Russia.(38)

The long-range program of cooperation to follow the war was more subtle. Laski contended that Soviet Russia and the Western powers might learn a great deal from each other.(39) While the USSR was more advanced in Socialist organization, possibly she could be induced to see the advantage of practicing a little more social and religious tolerance. The eternal hope of Fabian Socialists that the Soviet Union would “mellow” as a result of contacts with the West was still being echoed as recently as 1963 by spokesmen of the New Frontier, and was announced as a presumptive fact in the Fabian News of August, 1963.

About six months after Pearl Harbor, Professor Laski received a cordial invitation from Eleanor Roosevelt to address the International Students’ Congress to be held in Washington during September, 1942. Eleanor Roosevelt wrote that she would be “particularly happy” if Laski could be there to speak to the young people, and she invited him to stay at the White House—”as I know it would give my husband as well as myself a great deal of pleasure to have an opportunity to see you.”(40)

If Laski had quietly applied for a visa in the routine way, he would probably have received it. Filled with a strong sense of his own importance, however, he took the unusual step of asking Churchill’s permission. Since Laski had for months been publicly critical of Churchill, as possessing an anti-Socialist outlook and “eighteenth century mentality,” the Prime Minister quite reasonably declined to grant him an opportunity for airing such sentiments in Washington.(41) So Eleanor Roosevelt never had the pleasure of seeing him—and Laski seems naively to have lost his only chance for a face-to-face discussion with FDR concerning the shape of the postwar world to come.

He could still wield a potent pen, however, and he proceeded to do so until the end of the war. Since mail to and from the President of the United States or a Supreme Court Justice was classed as “privileged” by Allied censors, Laski could be assured of privacy when writing to Roosevelt and Frankfurter. If he preferred, he could always send letters or articles to the Washington Post and the New York Nation via the U.S. Embassy pouch. Soon after Christmas in 1942 he wrote to FDR: “…above all, I hope you will teach our Prime Minister that it is the hopes of the future and not the achievements of the past from which he must draw his inspiration.” Though Roosevelt and Frankfurter both reproved Laski for his increasingly sharp attacks on Churchill, privately they enjoyed his comments—especially FDR, who according to eyewitnesses found personal amusement in forcing Winston to play second fiddle to himself and Stalin at Big Three conferences.

Essentially, Laski’s wartime mission with reference to the United States resembled Ray Stannard Baker’s at the end of World War I. In private letters, destined to be read by the President or retailed to him, Laski discoursed on the state of the nation and the state of mind of the “common man” in England. Hints on postwar aims and “some sort of world organisation” to follow the war were interwoven with human anecdotes and the political gossip that Roosevelt loved.

Just as Baker had done, Laski reported that America’s President was the only hope of the working masses in Britain—and everywhere else—for a better life after the war. By nourishing Roosevelt’s messianic delusion, which was no less pronounced in its way than Woodrow Wilson’s had been, Laski encouraged the President to take a stand on postwar matters that coincided with the views of the Fabian International Bureau. Often it involved preferring the interests of Soviet Russia over those of the British Empire or the United States itself.

As early as December, 1941, Laski had written to Felix Frankfurter:

“At present the masses of Britain have, I think, three clear convictions. (i) Churchill is a grand war leader. (ii) The U.S.S.R. shows it has roots in popular opinion more profound than any other system. (iii) The only man who can define purposes which prevent collapse and chaos after the war is the President. Whether he will have his chance in time, whether he can find a successor to continue his policies, these are things we endlessly discuss in common, not I fear, too hopefully.”(42)

This was no simple outpouring of private hopes and fears. Coming from a member of the Fabian Executive and addressed to FDR’s foremost privy councillor, it had the quality of a succinct and far-reaching policy directive. It sheds new light on the peculiar urgency of Harry Hopkins, Frankfurter’s nominee for Lend-Lease powers, to give the USSR more than enough of everything to carry her through the fighting phases of the war; and helps to explain Hopkins’ insistence on regarding Soviet Russia rather than Britain as the “decisive factor” to be considered.(43) Moreover, it provides a clue to the otherwise inexplicable Big Three conferences, where the United States was committed to satisfying the Soviet Union’s territorial and geographic postwar aims. Historically, secret covenants between nations have sometimes preceded a war; but never before has a superior power rushed to award the fruits of victory to the greediest and most impoverished of military partners while a war was still in progress!

Fear that President Roosevelt, a willing Fabian Socialist captive, might fail to succeed himself in 1944, or might not physically survive World War II, supplied a motive for the premature concessions granted to Soviet Russia at Teheran and Yalta. The Teheran Conference of 1943, which preceded the cross-Channel invasion of Europe desired by Stalin and opposed by Churchill, in effect assured the USSR of a free hand in Eastern Europe plus confirming her hold on Poland and the Baltic countries. Roosevelt’s obviously failing health in 1945 hastened the Yalta Conference that delivered Manchuria to Soviet forces and enabled them to furnish the Chinese Communist armies with enough captured Japanese military materiel to insure Communist control over the mainland of China.

Thus a President of the United States, acting in his Supreme Court-affirmed capacity of absolute military Commander-in-chief, circumvented the postwar treaty-making powers of the Congress by presenting it with a series of accomplished facts. Even the format of the postwar United Nations was agreed upon at Teheran. The Fabian Socialist allies of Bolshevism had learned a lesson from Woodrow Wilson’s experience after World War I, and were determined not to risk a repetition. On the strength of these events it has since been alleged, with reason, that in modern times the most effective foreign agents of the Soviet Union operate as Fabian Socialists.

Before leaving Washington for Yalta, Franklin D. Roosevelt on January 16, 1945, dictated and signed what must have been his last personal letter to Harold Laski. From the broken, almost illegible handwriting that appears in the signature, one seeing it could deduce that the author was a very sick man.(44) Besides mentioning the forthcoming meeting with Marshal Stalin and Prime Minister Churchill, and FDR’s own hope of visiting England and seeing Laski in the summer to come, the letter contained this meaningful assurance: “Our goal is, as you say, identical for the long range objectives ….” (45)


Men whose goal is revolution, whether subtle or violent, have often made use of inspired charlatans—soothsayers, astrologers, numerologists, cultists of one kind or another, who could convey a revolutionary message in high-flown double talk. During the decades culminating in the French Revolution, for example, there arose a whole line of magnificent imposters, “who posed as initiators of the occult sciences, as possessors of the Great Secret and the Grand Magisterium; and there in consequence, the Higher Mysteries . . . They took root and flourished, developing an hundred splendors of romantic legends, of sonorous names and titles.”(46)

Of these the most splendid and the most successful was a self-ennobled Italian barber known as Count Cagliostro. Practicing alchemy, occultism and the healing arts, he bewitched a cultivated public in half a dozen tongues, as well as in a private jargon that had meaning for the initiate alone. Forecasting the future was his specialty. Even now, almost two centuries later, there are still scholars prepared to debate the point as to whether he was a savant or a rogue.

Cagliostro was the sensation of Paris and Strasbourg, where respectable bankers vied with one another to take advantage of his prognostications and to supply him with funds. At one time his patron was a Prince Royal, the brother of Louis XVI, sometimes called Philippe Egalite—leader of that liberal wing of the nobility who sympathized with the first stages of the French Revolution and most of whom subsequently went to the guillotine. Cagliostro’s elaborate intrigues played a well-known part in hastening the fall of the established order in France.(47) Who would have suspected him, in his heyday, of harboring such a purpose?

Spiritual heir and latter-day facsimile of that darling of the eighteenth century Enlightenment, was a Cambridge University don named John Maynard Keynes. He, too, was a magnificent figure: six feet three, and superbly tailored; an authority on wines, fine foods and beautiful women; patron of the arts, and master of the English language which he only distorted by design. He, too, posed as the possessor of elusive secrets, key to the Higher Mysteries of economics and public finance. More fortunate in his origins than Cagliostro, Keynes’ final role was as bursar of Kings College, Cambridge. There he studied the dietary habits of pigs with a view to improving the breed on the college-owned farm; and he ruled over the Political Economy Club, where his followers were made privy to the master’s techniques for apprehending and controlling future events.

An alchemist who succeeded in substituting paper for gold, a mystifier who claimed that money multiplied itself in the spending, Keynes compelled bankers to do his bidding and imposed his schemes on the highest personages in an age of political unreason. In the long run, his inspired economic gibberish and esoteric fiscal panaceas did more to promote the insolvency of English-speaking nations and speed the timetable of world-wide social revolution than any forthright revolutionary arguments could have done. It is a commentary on the moral and intellectual fiber of the times that, while Cagliostro died in poverty and disgrace, John Maynard Keynes ended his days as a self-made millionaire and authentic peer of the realm, mourned by a school of professional disciples pledged to perpetuate and update his more destructive fantasies.

The same question can be asked about Keynes that is asked about Cagliostro: Was he charlatan, adventurer, trickster, or the friend of humanity he claimed to be? Was Lord Keynes a highly polished secret weapon of the Fabian Socialist conspiracy to weaken the capitalist system progressively by consent of its beneficiaries—at the same time retaining its productive machinery intact for the benefit of the heirs? Or was he the good physician dedicated to prolonging life? The plain answer has long been obscured by the circumstance that Keynes’ reputation(48)—like the currencies he strove to manage—was systematically inflated through the efforts of a fervent Fabian Socialist claque on both sides of the Atlantic, while his ideas were usually represented as being too profound for the ordinary man and woman to grasp.

The story of his life, told by followers and friends, in some details approaches the fabulous. Dr. Seymour Harris—professor of Economics at Harvard’s Littauer School of Business Administration, who became Senior Consultant to the United States Treasury Department in 1961 (49)—gravely reaffirms that Keynes was fascinated by the theory of compound interest before he was five years old. (50) While such Gargantuan precocity can be doubted, it is true that Keynes was born to an assured future in left wing economics. His father, John Neville Keynes, was a professor at Cambridge, who published a book in 1890 entitled The Scope and Method of Political Economy For its strictures against the free enterprise system, therein called laissez faire, the book was approved by early leaders of the London Fabian Society. It was also included on reading lists of Socialist-slanted works recommended by The American Fabian magazine to its public.

The younger Keynes was educated at Eton and King’s College, Cambridge, which qualified him almost automatically for entry into the British Civil Service. Though he took no scholastic honors at the university, somehow he acquired a reputation for brilliance due to his conversational talent and his cool insolence in debate. Moreover, as he was prompt to point out, the name Keynes properly pronounced rhymed with “brains.” His gifts of persuasion were apparent to undergraduate friends who nicknamed him Pozzo, (51) after a Renaissance mercenary noted for skill in courtly intrigue as well as in administering slow poisons.

Campus political organizations gave Keynes an opportunity to test his fine Italian hand. As a freshman he joined the Liberal Club, a youthful adjunct of the Liberal Party that came to power in England not many years later. As a sophomore he also became a member of the Fabian Society’s student chapter at Cambridge (52) guided by Professor G. Lowes Dickinson, whose adepts were enjoined to capture the Liberal Club by penetration. Keynes’ college circle included Bertrand Russell and Leonard Woolf, both well-known in later life for their propaganda services to Fabian Socialism; and the poet, Rupert Brooke, whom some Fabians still claim as their own, even though he discovered the meaning of patriotism before he died as a soldier in World War I. Keynes himself—in common with many British and American Socialists—was to file as a conscientious objector.(53)

Two of his father’s associates, Professor Alfred Marshall and A. C. Pigou, groomed young Keynes for a career in economics; but even with their help, he placed no better than twelfth in his final examination. It is amusing to find Marshall and Pigou, both classified in their day as Fabian Socialist sympathizers, dismissed by present-day Keynesians as “classical economists”–(54) along with any others who preceded or failed to accept the vision of revealed economic truth ultimately vouchsafed to the world by John Maynard Keynes.

The sympathetic Professor Marshall rescued Keynes from a minor clerkship in the Colonial Office, bringing him back to lecture on economics at Cambridge University. Later the joint patronage of Marshall, Pigou and Sidney Webb (himself escaped form bondage in the Colonial Office, to become the high priest of Fabian Socialism) was responsible for making Keynes editor of the Economic Journal in 1911, and secretary of the Royal Economic Society in 1913. These posts established the young hopeful as a presumably serious economist and lent him the prestige so necessary to his future policy-making role. The Fabian Research Department, organized in 1912, was available to supply statistics and to prepare articles on request.

After the outbreak of World War I, Keynes took refuge in the British Treasury Department, where he diverted himself in spare moments by working out a foolproof method of stock market speculation. All his life he enjoyed gambling(55)—bridge, poker, roulette; but like most people, he preferred a sure thing. When the war ended, he found an opportunity for putting his system of mental wagers into practice. Beginning in 1919 with a moderate stake of four thousand pounds (less than $20,000), he parlayed it by 1937 into a neat fortune of 500,000 pounds (about 2.5 million dollars). A goodly share of his winnings resulted from the lowered interest rates that he promoted so assiduously in official quarters, and that caused the list prices of certain common stocks to rise.(56) Throughout the thirties he also speculated profitably in foreign exchange and public utilities stocks.

During the nineteen-twenties Keynes headed an investment firm in London, in partnership with former Treasury colleagues, and displayed what appeared to be an uncanny faculty for predicting politico-economic trends likely to affect the stock market. To selected clients, he gave the benefit of his insight. These included his future bade, a beauteous Russian ballerina of the Diaghilev troupe, whose investments he offered to handle and whom he married in 1925—the same year that he made a trip to Soviet Russia. It has been reported by informed sources that stock market tips, originating with Keynes, paid the expenses of the unofficial and official Soviet embassies in London from 1924 to 1932. At that period he was tireless in his demands that the British Treasury provide fuller statistics on national investment and foreign exchange.

Keynes’ international bent owed much to a friendship renewed in London with his old Fabian Socialist college chum, Leonard Woolf. Throughout his long bachelorhood (he married at forty-two) the lanky and personable Keynes was identified with the so-called Bloomsbury group revolving about Leonard Woolf and his wife, Virginia. It was composed of highly educated and magnified(57) upper middle class bohemians, talented and successful practitioners of literature or the arts. They were addicted to group-opinions and to a superficially critical, but none the less protective, attitude towards Soviet Russia.

An apparent point of difference with Russian Marxism was their belief that collectivist-minded intellectuals—rather than what Keynes called “the boorish proletariat”—were destined to become the professional rulers of an ideal future world. Bertrand Russell once described the Bloomsbury Fabians as a passionate mutual admiration clique of the elite; and there is no doubt they contributed greatly to the myth of Keynes’ unique mental powers.

It may be recalled that from 1915 Leonard Woolf was also the London Fabian Society’s leading amateur of international affairs; the author of International Government, which supplied the first blueprint for the League of Nations; head of the New Fabian Research Bureau’s international committee; a founder and for ten years chairman of the Fabian International Bureau. Woolf’s views on World Government and German reparations were faithfully reflected by John Maynard Keynes, when the latter attended the Versailles Peace Conference as a member of the British Treasury delegation.

There, as one of the younger dissidents, British and American, grouped around Colonel E. M. House, Keynes established long-lasting ties with Walter Lippmann and with Felix Frankfurter who represented the Zionist cause at the Peace Conference. (58) Returning from Paris, Keynes expressed their mutual dissatisfactions in his first book-length work, The Economic Consequences of the Peace. Lippmann and Frankfurter helped arrange for its publication in America, where it was touted and officially distributed by the League for Industrial Democracy as it was by the Fabian Society in Great Britain and the Colonies. (59) Here Keynes announced frankly that capitalism in Europe was doomed.

Not directly active in politics, Keynes retained a nominal affiliation with the Liberal Party and avoided declaring himself a Socialist. Inevitably, he sided with the Asquith Liberals, who were instrumental in handing over the reins of government to the Fabian-led Labour Party in 1924. During the election year, he delivered a famed anticapitalist lecture at Cambridge, published in 1926 as The End of Laissez Faire. There—like his father before him—he identified modern capitalism with the early nineteenth century foreign trade doctrine known as laissez faire, based on earlier and cruder forms of industrial production. Professor David McCord Wright of McGill University, Montreal—himself an admirer, in some respects, of Keynes —has noted that the “day of judgment” which Keynes predicted recurrently for capitalism was in reality purest milk of the Marxian word.(60)

In 1923, Keynes bought a controlling interest in The Nation and Athenaeum, placed it under the editorship of the well-known Fabian Socialist, Kingsley Martin; and utilized it as a vehicle of personal opinion and aggrandizement for himself and his friends. His widely-publicized attacks on the gold standard, appearing there and elsewhere, eventually persuaded the British people and certain Treasury officials as well, that the use of gold as a basis for monetary value was the chief cause of unemployment in England and the only begetter of the Great Depression. When Keynes complained in 1932 that for twelve years he had exercised no influence whatever on British Treasury policy, there was more than a touch of poetic license in his lament.

In 1929, he was named by Philip Snowden, Fabian Socialist Chancellor of the Exchequer, to an official Committee of Inquiry into Finance and Industry; and from 1930 he served on the MacDonald government’s economic Advisory Council. The unprecedented attack and public humiliation to which he subjected Sir Montagu Norman, Governor of the Bank of England, as a witness before the Macmillan Committee in 1931, set the stage for Great Britain’s abandonment of the gold standard, so strongly advocated by Keynes.

Fiscal and economic plans of the Labour Party Government from 1929 to 1931 echoed a Keynesian formula by now grown familiar to Americans. It was estimated that a government-financed public works program, designed to increase employment by 5 per cent, would “increase” the Treasury’s income by one and one half per cent via taxes. This windfall, supplemented by a 7 percent cut in defense expenditures, would serve to launch the Labour Party’s welfare program. Deficit spending and a managed currency, both implied in these recommendations, were not stressed in the public announcement.

When politics intervened to prevent application of such a plan in England, it was exported to the United States, where it provided a basic pattern for New Deal budgets of the nineteen-thirties. The idea of “paying” for politically profitable welfare programs’ by stripping the defense establishment was a long-cherished Socialist scheme that proved agreeable to Franklin D. Roosevelt. In consequence, U.S. Army recruits hastily called up after Pearl Harbor were discovered to be drilling with dummy rifles made of wood. Shelved for almost twenty-five years thereafter, the double-barreled Fabian Socialist scheme to procure funds for the “war against poverty” by a gradual process of military disarmament was suddenly revived by the Johnson Administration in 1964, as if it were a new invention.

First public intimation that British Fabian Socialists meant to foist their largely untried fiscal remedies upon the United States Government came on December 31,1933. On that date, The New York Times printed an open letter from John Maynard Keynes to President Franklin D. Roosevelt which filled the better part of a page in the Sunday paper. The advice it contained was at once so paradoxical and so remote from the preoccupations of the average citizen that relatively few readers took it seriously. Only a handful of New Deal insiders, long allied with the London Fabian Society and its American offshoots, realized that Keynes’ open letter laid down guidelines for financial policy which the keepers of the United States Treasury would observe for years to come.

In October, the Roosevelt Administration, following the Keynes-inspired example of the British Government, had abandoned the gold standard and adopted the device of a managed currency. To avoid serious fluctuations in the value of the dollar, Keynes now advised the United States Treasury to go into the business of buying and selling bullion. He also stated flatly that a permanent program of government “investment” in public works should be contemplated to supplement the inadequacies of private investment in creating employment. As aids to economic recovery, he recommended higher wages and higher prices—the latter to be achieved through a policy of cheap money and lower interest rates, touched off by lowered interest rates on government loans.

Above all, Keynes warned the President against “that crude economic fallacy known as the quantity theory of money!” This was a delicate way of suggesting that a government’s spending need not be limited to the amount of its income, actual or anticipated. By inference, cheap money could always be borrowed to meet any threatened day-to-day deficits—leaving the long-range Government deficits a mere item of Treasury bookkeeping. In retrospect, it is obvious that every proposal made by Keynes in his open letter was subsequently adopted by the New Deal Administration.

For whatever reason, vast and still vaster sums were “invested” in public works. The United States Treasury proceeded to buy and sell silver as well as gold, at immense cost to taxpayers yet unborn and profit to the knowledgeable few. Through increased gold and silver purchases from Mexico in 1938, the New Deal Administration compensated the Mexican Government almost to the penny for loss of oil royalties incurred as a result of the latter’s expropriation of American and British-owned oil leases and related properties—a maneuver attributed to Keynes’ great friend, Harry Dexter White, then Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

Between 1932 and 1953, “liberal” Democratic Administrations in Washington performed the remarkable feat of borrowing 250 billion dollars at steadily declining rates of interest, accomplished in part by pressure on the banks to absorb ever-larger quantities of government bonds. While each individual bond issue was repaid as it fell due, somehow the total remained on the Government books as an ever-mounting public debt. It was frenzied finance—a prescription for hand-to-mouth government operation, via a system of double entry bookkeeping.

Keynes paid a triumphal visit to the United States in June, 1934, one of numerous visitations. At that time, he was frequently consulted by many key persons in the Government, all eager for his comments and suggestions.(61) According to Secretary Perkins, he pointed out that in every respect the New Deal was doing exactly what his own theories called for. This was not surprising, in view of the fact that Keynes had cooperated closely with the British Fabian Socialist planners of PEP in drafting the preliminary plans for the New Deal, which were transmitted to Roosevelt via Felix Frankfurter, Stuart Chase, Harry Hopkins and Frances Perkins herself. When relief and public works appropriations were cut in 1937, Keynes warned of an economic recession—as did, in fact, occur, though not entirely for the reasons he alleged.

In 1934, Keynes was personally received by President Roosevelt, who wrote to their mutual friend, Felix Frankfurter, “I had a grand talk with K. and liked him immensely.” (62) To Frances Perkins, however, the President confided: “I saw your friend Keynes. He left a whole rigamarole of figures. He must be a mathematician rather than a political economist.” (63) On the whole, Keynes’ invitation to a higher, wider and handsomer program of government spending proved a pleasant prospect to the President, even if the attempt to justify it mathematically did not. Roosevelt’s own uncomplicated attitude toward money was best revealed in a mock-serious reproof to one of his secretaries who tended to be over-generous in her use of punctuation marks: “Grace, how often must I tell you not to waste the taxpayers’ commas? (64) Dollars or commas, they were much the same to FDR: if anything, he was more averse to wasting commas!

Following his interview at the White House, Keynes took the precaution of stopping in to see Secretary Perkins at the Department of Labor. After remarking ruefully that he had “supposed the President to be more literate, economically speaking,” he rehearsed his famous theory of “the multiplier” in simple terms. The “multiplier” was actually an invention of Richard F. Kahn, (65) one of Keynes’ clever students, which the “master” appropriated as his own.

As reported by Frances Perkins (on whose economic literacy he failed to comment), Keynes said that a dollar spent on relief was a dollar given in turn to the retailer, the wholesaler, and finally to the farmer—which, as any American farmer can testify, never happens! ‘With one dollar,” Secretary Perkins enthused, “you have created four dollars worth of national income!” (66) And she added, “I wish Keynes had been as concrete when he talked to Roosevelt instead of treating him as though he belonged to the higher echelons of economic knowledge!” (67) Keynes shrewdly surmised that Secretary Perkins would convey his simplified explanations to the President. In consequence, Roosevelt soon afterwards requested—and received—a 4 billion dollar appropriation for public works from the Congress.(68)

It was not necessary to be a serious student of Keynes in order to put his preachings into practice. Marriner Eccles, chairman of the Federal Reserve Board under Roosevelt, for instance, definitely helped to promote policies based on Keynesian economics. These, as Professor Seymour Harris has mentioned approvingly, included: printing-press money, unbalanced budgets, attacks on thrift, a redistribution of national income; all leading to increased production, especially in consumers’ industries, and to a larger volume of retail sales. Yet Eccles himself declared in 1951, “I have never read Keynes’ writings except in small extracts to this day.” (69)

Evidently Eccles derived his ideas from secondary sources, including some of his own assistants who were ardent Keynesians—among them, Lauchlin Currie. It may be useful to observe that Keynes’ views were officially derided by Soviet economists, who declared with unexpected veracity that his recipes could not possibly save capitalism in the long run. Nevertheless, individuals since disclosed as agents of the Soviet conspiracy in Washington, such as Lauchlin Currie and Harry Dexter White, were among the most active promoters of Keynesian measures. That circumstance alone might lead one to suspect his policies did not coincide with the best interests of the United States.

With the appearance in 1936 of his General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, the various anti-depression remedies advanced by Keynes were codified and elevated to the status of an economic doctrine. For its influence on men and events to come, publication of the General Theory has been held comparable only to that of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital. Despite a difficult style quite unlike Keynes’ lucid journalistic prose, the burden of the work is a simple one. Employing a strange vocabulary and an authoritative manner, the General Theory undertakes to demonstrate that public investment (or government spending) must be indefinitely prolonged to correct the “deficiencies” of private capital.

It is based on two major assumptions, both of Marxist origin and both open to serious question. First, that a government is in duty bound to provide.”full employment” for its citizens: a condition only attained in the past under slave-economies. Second, that periodic slumps are inherent in the “sick” capitalist system. Regular infusions of government aid, therefore, are prescribed to insure a perpetual boom. The cure-all is attractively packaged and easy to swallow, even though the aftertaste may be bitter. If the patient eventually weakens and dies—well, that is bound to happen some day, and by then the hopeful physician will be out of reach. In the long run, as Keynes remarked, not too originally, we are all dead.

For devotees of pure English or uncluttered logic, reading Keynes’ General Theory is a painful experience. The text abounds in such stock terms as “durable consumer goods”—though clearly, nothing consumed can properly be called durable. The word which Keynes used most assiduously, however, and to which he attached the most variable meanings, is a word reminiscent of the stock market speculation: namely, “marginal.” Thus he speaks of “marginal tendency to consume”; the “marginal utility (70) of labor”; the “marginal efficiency of capital,” by which he really means “inefficiency.” All of these singular factors are measured percentage-wise and their effect on the national economy is computed.

“Liquidity preference” is the horrid phrase used by Keynes to describe the normal human impulse to keep some ready cash on hand, instead of spending or investing it at once. This, says Keynes, should be discouraged, because it takes money out of circulation. Saving is equated with hoarding, like the gold in the French peasant’s sock— even though modern savings banks often play a very useful role in private investment. In that Keynesian wonderland of topsy-turvy verbiage and distorted logic, one notes a gradual but implacable trend toward shutting off all the sources which are the lifeblood of private investment—including a campaign to dishearten the long-term investor by ever lower interest rates. Thus, in an artificially stimulated economy, which Keynes visualizes as constantly expanding, the role of private capital must inevitably shrink in proportion to the always more dominant public or government sector, until initiative fails at last and free enterprise gives up the ghost without a struggle.

Though Keynes is usually regarded, quite correctly, as the father of deficit spending, the implications of his General Theory are more far-reaching than the average American who is not “economically literate” might suppose. Public investment—so called because it allegedly reaps dividends in the shape of larger tax returns, even if the original capital outlay is never recovered—involves a great deal more than the mere act of spending.(71) It means “planning” of the nation’s economic life by invisible government planners; it means political supervision of private industry to measure its “social utility” and “efficiency” in providing jobs; it means a manipulated currency, to make certain that real wages do not rise too rapidly and that the only benefit of last week’s wage raise will be a bigger tax deduction. In other words, it means Big and Bigger Government.

Total employment itself calls for higher and higher levels of production, presumably to absorb the labor of a growing population. It means Big Industry and Big Labor, both increasingly subservient to Big Government. Moreover, total employment demands total consumption—that is, continuous and frantic personal spending without thought for the future. Whatever is not spent returns as taxes to the Government, which will care in some fashion for its carefree citizens in old age, sickness and other contingencies. The society evolving from all this combines the philosophy of the grasshopper with the community life of the ant—a synthesis never imagined by LaFontaine, that innocent of the ancien regime!

The revolutionary nature of Keynes’ New Economics was, of course, unnoticed by and unknown to the great American public. Its inner meaning was divulged only to the illumined few and has never to this day been generally acknowledged. Leaders of the international Socialist movement, however, were quick to grasp the point. The first enthusiastic review of Keynes’ General Theory by any professional economist came from the pen of G. D. H. Cole, (72) avowed Marxist, lifelong foe of the profit system and foremost Fabian Socialist doctrinaire of his time.

Whether Keynes himself remained an overt or covert member of the British Fabian Society is a purely academic question. Born, bred and nourished in the Fabian creed, he is not known to have ever forsaken it. Most of his relatives and close friends were openly connected with Fabian Socialist organizations. In 1922, his sister, Helen Keynes, revived the Fabian Educational Group, a “liberal” women’s group founded during World War I. Years later his niece, Polly Hill, became a staff member of the New Fabian Research Bureau, employed at her uncle’s request.

Although Keynes declined to join the New Fabian Research Bureau except as an Associate Member, his refusal caused no rancor and his views on economics were reflected in a majority of the forty-two “solid research pamphlets” published by the Bureau between 1933 and 1938. It was understood that his gesture had been prompted by a desire to avoid compromising his policy-making role as financial adviser to liberal statesmen abroad and Coalition governments at home. For years he continued to draw overflow crowds at lectures sponsored by the London Fabian Society. If he was not formally a member of the Society, he was still its most conspicuous ornament—and most effective secret weapon.

To disarm non-Socialist critics and to convey his true purpose to a Socialist elite, the author of the General Theory described himself blandly as an “economic nationalist.”(73) Though the term mystified many, others recognized it as a reference to the nationalism of Edward Bellamy, early prophet of the cooperative commonwealth, whose novel, Looking Backward, Keynes had read as a boy in Cambridge, England. Memories of the Bellamy Nationalist clubs, America’s first Fabian Socialist-inspired political movement, still survived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Keynes’ influence was to become a potent latter-day force. Elsewhere he stated delicately: “The Republic of my imagination lies on the extreme left of celestial space.” (74)

Keynes’ views on the nationalization of basic industries were more candidly disclosed in a private letter of February 1, 1938, to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. There he wrote:

“. . . If I was in your place, I should buy out the utilities at a fair price in every district where the situation was ripe for doing so, and announce that the ultimate ideal was to make this policy nationwide. But elsewhere I would make peace on liberal terms, guaranteeing fair earnings for new investment and a fair basis of valuation in the event of the public taking them over hereafter.”

That there should be no misunderstanding, he added: “I accept the view that durable investment must come increasingly under state direction.” (75)

The system promulgated by Keynes, as even his most loyal disciples admit, was in reality no system at all. It was a rationale and a tool for achieving total political control, at a gradually increased tempo, over the economic life of a nation. Specifically designed to affect public policy, it adapted the once-pedestrian methods of Fabian Socialism to an age of high-powered mass production. More than any other contrivance, Keynes’ New Economics performed the feat of lifting the Fabian tortoise off the back roads and byways, and putting it on a modern freeway in a fast car supplied by its own willing victims.

Many years earlier—back in 1909, when the British Empire was strong enough to enforce peace throughout the world—spokesmen for the Conservative Party of Great Britain had asserted that Fabian Socialists would never be able to achieve their declared aim of nonviolent social revolution—because the free enterprise system would never consent meekly to its own destruction.(76) To that taunt John Maynard Keynes, who became Lord Keynes of Tilton, supplied a delayed but deadly answer. He furnished a formula for the peaceful transition to Socialism and helped mightily to induce the United States, greatest industrial nation on earth, to adopt it as an official policy.

Dealing in broad generalities based on equally broad assumptions, the General Theory was merely a framework to which Keynes’ acolytes and heirs could add such refinements or excrescences as their fancy dictated. It bred a new scholasticism, rather than objective study: for there could be no tampering with the basic concepts. Moreover, the macro-economics of Keynes, being primarily designed to influence public policy, implied that its adepts alone were qualified to plan the economic and fiscal destiny of nations. Thus the keys to the future were delivered into the hands of an intellectual elite trained to interpret the New Economics. This perhaps was the secret of its profound appeal to students and professors of political economy, intoxicated by the vistas of power and influence which their monopoly of the Keynesian technique conferred.

In academic circles the success of the General Theory was prompt and lasting. The young took it up and their elders followed, one of the first “older” economists to promote it being Professor Alvin Hansen of Harvard and the LID. A Keynesian school of thought arose, a close-knit fraternal entity whose members supported and advanced each other professionally. As Harvard Professor A.J. Schumpeter explained, this was a well-organized group professing “allegiance to one master and one doctrine,” with “its propagandists, its watchwords, its esoteric and popular doctrine.” (77) Linked to it was a wider ring of sympathizers in public and private life, and beyond these a still wider ring of persons who had absorbed, consciously or unconsciously, some phases of the Keynesian mystique.

Harvard University, where Keynes lectured in person, appears to have been the first influential center from which those widening smoke rings of modern Fabian Socialist doctrine were wafted. Its glowing core was the Department of Economics which, by affiliation with the School of Business Administration, was even able to extend the Keynesian outlook into the industrial and managerial field. A proud example of this permeation process was Robert S. McNamara, who, after serving as an assistant professor of Business Administration at Harvard from 1940 to 1943 and flying a desk for several years in the Army Air Force, became an executive of the Ford Motor Company— and ultimately civilian czar of the United States Department of Defense. His role, as professional army men have pointed out, was to devise and execute a series of nonmilitary actions for encirclement of the military.

Anyone who studied at a leading American or British university in the middle nineteen-thirties remembers how all at once the whole character of political economy seemed to change; along with such allied subjects as sociology, history and political science. Every previous approach was suddenly found to be outdated, and the New Economics of John Maynard Keynes became the harbinger of a New Social Order. Actually, the New Economics was not quite so new as its name. It borrowed something from Jevons, the nineteenth century Briton applauded in the original Fabian Essays, and much from minor Scandinavian economists engaged in applying a type of Socialism which has been called the Middle Way. The only major economic prophet, however, whose teachings the new doctrine did not wholly contradict, was Karl Marx; for Keynes discreetly left some things unsaid.

Paul Sweezy, known today as a “brilliant” Marxist as well as an ardent Keynesian, still recalls the electric excitement, the tingling sense of power and opportunity unlimited, that swept the campus in his student days.(78) Even a nonprofessional economist like the late John F. Kennedy, who was a Harvard undergraduate in the years when the Keynesian revelation first dawned, could hardly have avoided being impressed by the newly fashionable economic gospel. Many years later, by way of a practical testimonial, President Kennedy invited a number of his old teachers to Washington to aid him in planning policies for the nation and the world. His own talk was rich in such Keynesian catchwords as the gross national product, the balance of payments, and especially National Growth, which seemed vague but full of promise to a largely untutored popular audience.

It is generally agreed today that there is hardly a political economist of prominence in America who—even when he appears critical of Keynes—has not been influenced by the Keynesian method.(79) If he had resisted seriously, it is safe to say he would not be prominent. So strong and widespread is the influence of the Keynesian School, as exerted through the American Economic Society, the American Academy of Political Science, the American Association of University Professors and other respected bodies—not to mention the League for Industrial Democracy and the Americans for Democratic Action.

A graduate student in economics at a major American university who was bold enough to attack the Keynesian method as the intellectual fraud of the century and the product of an inspired charlatan, would be surprised to receive a doctorate—and would probably have difficulty in securing either an academic or government post, or the publishing outlets needed to rise in the profession. So dominant and so exclusive has the New Economics become, that the posthumous authority of Keynes is even greater than it was in his lifetime, when he framed international monetary policy and dictated postwar trade policies for England and the United States.

For some thirty years the New Economics launched by Keynes has been potent political medicine in Washington. Deficit budgets and grandiose spending became the hallmarks not only of the New Deal, but also of its liberally permeated successors, the Fair Deal and the New Frontier. Public “investment” in public works was superseded by Lend-Lease in World War II, to be followed by the multiple forms of foreign aid and civilian-planned defense in the postwar era. A reversion to the early New Deal emphasis on welfare and public works, with some added global overtones, was evident in President Johnson’s first State of the Union message.

One of the questions that appears to have escaped Keynes, as even the faithful Professor Harris admits, was: How high can a national debt rise without resulting in national bankruptcy? (80) Spurred by advice from John Maynard Keynes and macro-economists of the Keynesian School, the architects of the official public debt of the United States caused it to soar to 305 billion dollars by July 1, 1963—some 25 billion dollars more than the combined public debts of the other 112 nations of the world. Yet the Government was still borrowing money to finance a permanent program of foreign aid, on which a substantial part of our domestic production and employment seemed to depend. Even now there are Keynesians in the United States and England who complain that our annual deficits are not high enough to assure prosperity for all!

Although Lord Keynes died peacefully in 1946 and was interred with all the pomp an admiring Labour Party Government in Britain could provide, the mischief he compounded lives on. If his influence was vast during his lifetime, it has been enormously magnified since his death. In the pantheon of Fabian Socialism, even a demigod is not irreplaceable: there are always trained heads and hands prepared to push his theories, with appropriate variations, to their unnatural conclusion.

The cult of national suicide, initiated by Keynes and known as the New Economics, is not only preserved but expanded by his sophisticated followers, operating through the twin channels of politics and higher education with the blessing of the Socialist International. An entire generation of political economists has been reared in Keynes’ image; and Keynesian cliches have become the debased tender of intellectual exchange from Washington and London to Calcutta and Damascus. As The New York Times proclaimed in a banner headline on September 9,1963: “Once revolutionary, the economics of Keynes now is orthodox.”(81)

Almost imperceptibly, John Maynard Keynes became the “prophet of the new radicalism,” as a current spokesman of that radicalism, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., has confessed. Since its goals do not differ noticeably from those of the old radicalism, little public mention is made of ultimate aims. The technical expedients for achieving them at ever-accelerated speed are stressed. Thus the methodology of Keynes has inspired a whole series of new high speed techniques and new forms of penetration for effecting a tacit transition to Socialism under the somewhat bewildering conditions of the post World War II atomic era.

Far from being defunct today, the Keynesian approach has become almost unassailable by virtue of time and repetition. The deceptively innocent slogan of “full employment,” for instance, was embodied in a Resolution passed in 1952 by the International Labor Organization in Geneva.(82) The same slogan reappears in the present-day programs of Socialist-directed trade unions and political organizations in the United States.

The Keynesian promise of a perpetual boom maintained through government spending—modern version of the Greek myth of the miraculous pitcher—was dished out as a basis for the Democratic Party’s national election campaign of 1964. In the shape of dazzling and generally unsubstantiated statistics, it has been rewarmed and served up to an uncritical public through popular magazines, (83) daily columnists (84) and news releases from official sources. All presage, often without realizing it, a transition to that Socialist way of life which the London Sunday Times once defined as “competition without prizes, boredom without hope, war without victory and statistics without end.”

The time-honored Fabian Socialist tenet, reaffirmed by Keynes, of indirect rule by an academic elite, was echoed as recently as 1963 in the Godkin Lectures delivered at Harvard by Clark Kerr, President of the University of California. The role of the professor in government, he noted, is no longer confined to Washington, but extends more and more into the fields of state and local administration as well. With the proliferation of the Federal-grant universities, that role seems destined to increase still further. Today, as never before, the campus is being drawn to the city hall and the state capitol. As Dr. Kerr explained it, the politicians need new ideas to meet new problems and the agencies need “expert” advice to handle the old problems. The professor, he asserted, can supply both.

By way of authority, he quoted the concluding sentences of Keynes’ General Theory: “. . . ‘the ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by tattle else …. I am sure that the power of vested interests is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas.’ As for example, the ideas of Keynes.” (85)


1. Frankfurter was a founder and director of the American Civil Liberties Union; a legal counsel for the NAACP. He was also one of the original stockholders and contributors of the New Republic and a member of the board of Survey Associates, publishers of Survey Graphic. Helen Shirley Thomas, Felix Frankfurter: Scholar on the Bench (Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1960), p. 21.

2. Robert Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins (New York, Harper & Brothers, 1948), p. 47-48.

3. Ibid., p. 47.

4. David Elliot Weingast, Walter Lippmann (A Study in Personal Journalism) (New Brunswick, Rutgers Press, 1949), p. 10.

5. Felix Frankfurter, “The Supreme Court and the Public,” Forum magazine, (June, 1930), pp. 332-333.

6. Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee vs. McGrath, 341 U. S. 123, 174 (1951). The Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee is cited on the Attorney General’s list of subversive organizations.

7. Frankfurter’s personal interest in public ownership of public utilities dated from 1914, when he was a member of the board of trustees of the National Bureau of Public Utilities Research.

8. Thomas, op. cit., p. 29.

9. Congressional Record, House of Representatives (May 3, 1934), pp. 8042-43.

10. Italics added, then removed.

11. Among those who have been named as members of the National Planning Association were: Frank Altschul, Chester Bowles, James Carey, Harry Carman, Norman Cousins, Felix Frankfurter, A. J. Hayes, Eric Johnston, Laird Bell, James G. Patton, Walter Reuther, Elmo Roper, Beardsley Ruml, H. Christian Sonne, Clarence E. Pickett, Wayne C. Taylor, L. S. Buckmaster, Harry A. Bullis, J. D. Zellerbach, Jacob Panken, Randolph S. Paul, George Soule. Many of these individuals later joined the Committee for Economic Development.

12. Elizabeth Edwards, The Planners and Bureaucracy (Liverpool, K. R. P. Publications, no date), p. 22. From internal evidence, this pamphlet appears to have been written in the middle nineteen-forties.

13. Sherwood, op. cit., p. 230.

14. Ibid., pp. 230 ff.

15. Holmes-Laski Letters, Mark DeWolfe Howe, ed. (Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1953), p. 141. (Laski to Holmes, March 11, 1918.)

16. Kingsley Martin, Harold Laski: A Biographical Memoir (New York, The Viking Press, Inc., 1953), pp. 45-46.

17. Ibid., pp. 38-40. Lord Beveridge in his autobiography Power and Influence (New York, The Beechhurst Press, Inc., 1955), p. 181 also states: “one of my first appointments (i.e. to the faculty of the London School) was Hugh Dalton. Another was Harold Laski, urged on me by Graham Wallas to rescue him from an uncomfortable position at Harvard.)

18. Francis Williams, Ernest Bevin (London, Hutchinson & Co., Ltd., 1952), p. 237.

19. Emanuel Shinwell, Conflict without Malice (London, Odhams Press, Ltd., 1955), p. 187.

20. Williams, op. cit., p. 210. Labour Party members who signed the Unity Manifesto included Stafford Cripps, Harold Laski, Aneurin Bevan, John Strachey, William Mellor. It was also signed by such leaders of the British Communist Party as Harry Pollitt, William Gallacher, James Maxton, Tom Mann.

21. Martin, op. cit., p. 130.

22. Ibid., p. 131.

23. Williams, op. cit., pp. 238-239.

24. The Socialism of Our Times. A Symposium. Harry W. Laidler and Norman Thomas, eds. (New York, The Vanguard Press, Inc.,–League for Industrial Democracy, 1929), pp. 131 ff.

25. Italics added, then removed.

26. Italics added, then removed.

27. Fabian News (October, 1931). Announcement of forthcoming lecture on Thursday, November 19, 1931 by Professor H. J. Laski.

28. “The Fabian Social,” Fabian News (June, 1933). This item states: “The Social evening party held at the Livingstone Hall on Thursday, May 4 was very successful. About 200 members and friends assembled and an enjoyable evening was spent. Short speeches were given by Sir Stafford Cripps, K. C. M. P., G. Bernard Shaw, Professor H. J. Laski and S. K. Ratcliffe, the last three having just returned to this country from America.”

29. “Friends Hall Lectures,” Fabian News (December, 1935). Review of Professor H. J. Laski’s speech of November 14 on “The Failure of the American Experiment.”

30. In a personal letter from Eleanor Roosevelt to M. P. McCarran.

31. Mrs. Laski was a well-known advocate of birth control clinics in England.

32. Martin, op. cit., p. 114.

33. Ibid., p. 114.

34. Cf. Articles by J. H. Laski, New Statesman, July 5, 1941 and September 13, 1941.

35. In this letter to President Roosevelt, Laski had expressed gratitude for the “noble appointments” of John Winant and Benjamin V. Cohen, as Winant’s adviser at the U. S. Embassy in London. He had also written: “[It is] exhilarating . . . when you believe that the two nations, after we’ve won, hold the fate of the world in their hands. If liberal America makes England speak the right words and do the right acts, even this may in the end be worth the blood and tears that have been shed.” Martin, op. cit., p. 141.

36. Ibid., p. 141. (Footnote)

37. Cf. President Roosevelt’s Message to Congress of January 6, 1941.

38. Martin, op. cit., pp. 141-142.

39. Apparently this has become a standard Fabian Socialist cliche. “We saw much and learned much,” wrote John Parker in Fabian News for October, 1963, describing a recent Fabian Society tour to Russia which he conducted. A long time member of the Fabian Executive, John Parker has been making “educational” visits to the USSR since 1932, when he accompanied Margaret Cole and the original New Fabian Research Bureau delegation on a study trip.

40. Martin, op. cit., p. 145.

41. On March 25, 1942 Churchill had written Laski: “I certainly should think it very undemocratic if anyone were to try to carry socialism during a party truce without a parliamentary majority.”

42. Martin, op. cit., p. 143.

43. Sherwood, op. cit., pp. 748-749. Sherwood states that Hopkins had with him at the Quebec Conference, which set the stage for the Teheran Conference of 1943, a document that contained the following estimate: “Russia’s post-war position in Europe will be a dominant one. With Germany crushed, there is no power in Europe to oppose her tremendous military forces. It is true that Great Britain is building up a position in the Mediterranean vis-a-vis Russia that she may find useful in balancing power in Europe. However, even here she may not b able to oppose Russia unless she is otherwise supported.

“The conclusions from the foregoing are obvious. Since Russia is the decisive factor in the war, she must be given every assistance and every effort must be made to obtain her friendship. Likewise, since without question she will dominate Europe on the defeat of the Axis, it is even more essential to develop and maintain the most friendly relations with Russia.

“Finally, the most important factor the United States has to consider in relation to Russia is the prosecution of the war in the Pacific. With Russia as an ally in the war against Japan, the war can be terminated in less time and at less expense in life and resources than if the reverse were the case. Should the war in the Pacific have to be carried on with an unfriendly or negative attitude on the part of Russia, the difficulties will be immeasurably increased and operations might become abortive.

This remarkable document, headed “Russia’s Position,” was alleged to have been quoted from “a very high level United States military strategic estimate.” It reflected with singular fidelity estimates published in the Fabian Socialist New Statesman by that high level nonmilitary expert, Professor H. J. Laski.

44. Martin, op. cit., This letter is reproduced on the page opposite, p. 135.

45. Italics added, then removed.

46. William R. H. Trowbridge, Cagliostro (Savant or Scoundrel?) (New Hyde Park, University Books, 1961), p. x.

47. Cagliostro is best known for having engineered the notorious affair of the Diamond Necklace, in which a Cardinal and a Queen of France were unwittingly entangled. The scandal touched off by that incident rocked the country and helped bring about the end of the monarchy.

48. In an editorial note, The New York Times (Western edition) of September 9, 1963 stated concerning Keynes: “. . . the greatness of his reputation is unassailable.”

49. Dr. Seymour E. Harris worked with Presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson on his press campaign and two-day seminars in 1954. He was also a member of his task force on the economy. Harris has served as consultant to a dozen federal departments. As of 1962 he was Senior Consultant to the Secretary of the Treasury and to the Council of Economic Advisors; a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Research Council, the Committee on Textile Research, and the Public Advisory Committee on Area Development. Seymour E. Harris, The Economics of the Political Parties, With Special Attention to Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy. (New York, The Macmillan Co., 1962). Dedication reads: “For Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. and John Kenneth Galbraith,” p. vii Introduction.

50. Seymour Harris, John Maynard Keynes: Economist and Policy Maker (New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1955), p. 19.

51. R. F. Harrod, The Life of John Maynard Keynes (New York, The Macmillan Co., 1951), p. 180.

52. Ibid., pp. 60-61.

53. Ibid., p. 63.

54. Seymour E. Harris, John Maynard Keynes: Economist and Policy Maker (New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1955), p. 5, et al.

55. Ibid., p. 23.

56. Ibid., p. 24.

57. Cf. L. Frank Baum, The Wizard of Oz. (“The Highly Magnified Woggle-bug, H. E.”)

58. Thomas, op. cit., p. 17.

59. Fabian News (March, 1920).

60. David McCord Wright, “Mr. Keynes and the ‘Day of Judgment’,” Science, November 21, 1958, Vol. 128, No. 3334, p. 1259. Published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

61. Frances Perkins, The Roosevelt I Knew (New York, The Viking Press, 1946), p. 225.

62. Harrod, op. cit., p. 448.

63. Perkins, op. cit., p. 225.

64. Sherwood, op. cit., 217.

65. Harris, op. cit., p. 51.

66. Italics added, then removed.

67. Perkins, op. cit., p. 226.

68. T. R. B., “Washington Letter,” New Republic (June 17, 1934).

69. Marriner Eccles, Beckoning Frontiers (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1951), pp. 37-39; 78-79; 132.

70. A term borrowed from Jevons and used as a replacement for the Marxian theory of surplus value.

71. Some followers of Keynes assert that if sufficiently large sums are invested by government, the entire amount will return in taxes–thanks to the operation of the “multiplier.” To date, this phenomenon has not occurred.

72. Seymour E. Harris, John Maynard Keynes: Economist and Policy Maker (New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1955), p. 206.

73. In his later years, Keynes also described himself solemnly as a “mercantilist”–referring to the eighteenth century mercantile theory, when foreign trade was under State control!

74. Nation and Athenaeum (February 20, 1926).

75. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Papers, Keynes to Roosevelt (February 1, 1938). Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, New York.

76. The Case Against Socialism, A Handbook for Speakers and Candidates. With prefatory letter by the Rt. Honourable A. J. Balfour. (London, George Allen & Sons, 1909), p. 90.

77. The New Economics: Keynes Influence on Theory and Public Policy. A Symposium, Seymour E. Harris, ed. (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1947), p. 339.

78. Ibid., p. 106.

79. Seymour E. Harris, John Maynard Keynes: Economist and Policy Maker (New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1955), p. 208.

80. Ibid., p. 214.

81. The New York Times (Western edition), (September 9, 1963). Article by British economist George Schwartz.

82. The Resolution referred to included the following significant sentence: “The Conference draws attention to the possible advantages of an international Convention which would provide for the assumption by Governments to accept full employment as a primary objective of social and economic policy, and to establish or designate appropriate national authorities which would be responsible for studying continuously the evolution of the employment situation and for making recommendations concerning the action to be taken to maintain full employment.” (From a Report on the 34th Conference of the International Labor Organization, by William L. McGrath, Adviser to Charles P. McCormick, Employer Delegate on the United States Delegation, p. 10).

83. See special Report: “$50 Billion Worth of Good News,” Life magazine (January 10, 1964).

84. See nationally syndicated column by Sylvia Porter, published January 23, 1964 in the Riverside, California Daily enterprise.

85. Clark Kerr, The Uses of the University (Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1963). Chapter III, “The Future of the City of Intellect,” p. 116.

Chapter 17 << | >> Chapter 19

Chapter 17-Fabian Face Cards in the New Deal

Chapter 17 of the book Fabian Freeway.

“It may be called by some other name!” Those words run like a refrain through the literature of Fabian Socialism, from the movement’s modest beginnings to the present day. Again and again they recur in the writings and speeches of Fabian publicists, from George Bernard Shaw to Harry W. Laidler (1) to Upton Sinclair to Mark Starr (2) to Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Meeting the identical statement so many times over, one can hardly fail to realize that it is a clue to Fabian tactics, past and present. So clear a warning, so frequently repeated, is obviously designed to alert friends of the movement to the stealthy procedure of encroaching Socialism—on the assumption that, like any other oft-announced plan of attack, it will be ignored or discounted by the prospective victims.

In 1932 a seemingly impromptu but in fact carefully researched program for advancing social revolution by peaceful means was called The New Deal. Both the name and the program were first unveiled in a book by Stuart Chase entitled A New Deal. Never very widely circulated and soon conveniently buried, it was meant for a select coterie of prospective public servants—and for the eyes of one man in particular, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. For all practical purposes, this volume soon replaced the moderate 1932 platform of the Democratic Party, which pledged thrift and a curb on Federal spending.

Appearing in a critical election year, its publication like that of other books by Stuart Chase was financed by the Twentieth Century Fund, an allegedly educational foundation set up for purposes of “public service” by Edward A. Filene of Boston. Director of the Twentieth Century Fund from 1928 to 1953 was Evans Clark, a former president of the Intercollegiate Socialist Society and vice president of the League for Industrial Democracy. (3) In 1920 Clark had been employed as Director of Information for Ludwig Martens, the unofficial Soviet ambassador who was expelled for conspiratorial activities. (4) Both Clark and his wife, Freda Kirchwey, (5) long time editor of the leftist weekly, The Nation, were intimates of the British Fabian Socialist and avowed Marxist, Harold Laski, whose articles were featured from time to time in The Nation and whose ideas strongly influenced certain leaders of the incoming administration.

Stuart Chase had graduated from Harvard in 1910 and joined the Fabian Society of London the same year. He was a certified public accountant and an equally certified Socialist, with a flair for popularizing borrowed ideas in a smooth and painless style. In Boston he was one of the circle revolving around Mrs. Glendower Evans, which included Florence Kelley, Louis D. Brandeis and. Upton Sinclair. During World War I he worked from 1917 to 1919 as an official of Wilson’s War Food Administration in Chicago. There he became vice president of the Socialist-sponsored Public Ownership League, an organization dedicated to promoting public ownership of electric power and related industries. Moving to New York, he served as treasurer of the LID, was a frequent lecturer at the Rand School, an editor of the New Republic and a featured contributor to The Nation.

Admittedly, Chase sympathized with the idea of violent revolution as a cure for social ills, holding it to have been absolutely “necessary and inevitable” in Russia. “It may some day be inevitable in this country,” he warned, and added coolly: “I am not seriously alarmed by the sufferings of the creditor class, the trouble which the church is bound to encounter, the restrictions on certain kinds of freedom which must result, nor even by the bloodshed of the transition period. A better economic order is worth a little bloodshed. But I am profoundly disturbed by the technological aspects of this method of solving the problem of distribution in a highly mechanized society such as ours. In the attempt, production might be shattered beyond repair.” (6)

Except as a last resort, Chase did not advise catastrophic action in the United States. In the long run, said he, similar collectivist results could be achieved through national planning, regulation and control by government agencies operating more or less within the framework of the Constitution. To that end, he outlined a broad program—based in part on Sidney Webb’s Labour and the New Social Order and in part on the monetary nostrums of John Maynard Keynes —guaranteed to lead in due time to a nonprofit system. For the next few years, he proposed merely three major steps:

1. A managed currency, to prevent accidental inflation and deflation.

2. Drastic redistribution of the national income, through income and inheritance taxes.

3. A huge program of public works, to become a continuing program especially in the fields of housing and rural electrification.(7)

All three of these prescribed remedies were adopted in 1933, and after, by the Roosevelt Administration, whose program became officially known as the New Deal.

Undeniably, Socialism’s first major, Fabian-planned opportunity in the United States came about through the Democratic Party’s landslide victory in 1932. It followed in the wake of a financial panic of unprecedented severity, provoked by the stock market crash of October, 1929. Few Americans alive today recall that the Great Depression, which somehow lasted longer in America than anywhere else, was a world-wide phenomenon of European origin, touched off by the failure of the Creditanstalt bank in Vienna. Through their contacts with foreign Socialists, American Fabians were able to predict the impending day of doom in the United States with some certitude, and they were prepared to take advantage of it.

Some months before the crash H. Stephen Raushenbush—secretary of the Socialist-fostered committee on coal and giant power—referred to a period of low wages, high prices and general unemployment as if it were already a fact.(8) He viewed the prospect optimistically, saying, “We can see more clearly the function which liberals and socialists—both those who are essentially scholars and students and those who are politicians—can have in changing the social order.”(9) Raushenbush invited young Socialists graduating from college to enter the Government service, especially the Interior and Treasury Departments, as a means of developing techniques and obtaining necessary information for gaining control over private industry. And he asserted confidently: “Within the next ten years we are going to have a chance such as we have not had in the last forty.”(10)

Within the next few years private American investments previously valued at 93 billion dollars shrank to a mere 14 billion dollars. The unemployed in the United States were estimated to number twelve to fourteen million. For the first time in its existence, the nation cried out for a political savior. He descended like a god from the machine and he offered the people something that, with a flash of psychological insight, was cleverly termed “relief.”

As A. Susan Lawrence, M.P.—member of the Fabian Executive and friend of Frances Perkins, Jane Addams and Eleanor Roosevelt —reported at a Livingstone Hall lecture in London: “By one of history’s strangest freaks, the elaborate system of checks and balances devised in the American Constitution, has resulted for the moment at any rate, in the complete personal ascendancy of Franklin Roosevelt.” (11) On that occasion, the chairman was Helen Keynes, sister of the left wing financial oracle, John Maynard Keynes who had contributed so liberally to the strange new fiscal policies of the Roosevelt Administration. Helen Keynes stressed the “supreme importance,” for the “survival of democracy,” of what was happening in the United States. Susan Lawrence dwelt upon the practical opportunities it offered for Socialism and Socialist-led labor groups.

The dramatic emergence of Franklin Delano Roosevelt at that precise moment in history was neither as providential nor as fortuitous as it may have seemed to the general public. On the contrary, it had been painstakingly planned and prepared far in advance. Almost twenty years before, as a crisp young Assistant Secretary of the Navy under Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt had been briefed on the career of Philip Dru, Administrator—that fictional personage who devised a formula for centering power in the administrative branch of government, as a means of imposing sweeping social changes. At least as early as 1920, Roosevelt was marked for future greatness by Philip Dru’s creator, Colonel Edward Mandell House.

It is noteworthy that in a lifetime of political observation Colonel House backed only two candidates for the Presidency. The first had been Woodrow Wilson. The second was Franklin Roosevelt, whose family name and humanitarian pretensions could be counted upon to rally such leftward Progressives of the defunct Bull Moose Party as Senators La Follette, Norris and Hiram Johnson and Governor Gifford Pinchot of Pennsylvania; while his own record of Democratic Party regularity rendered him acceptable to old-line Democrats. The timely support Roosevelt had given A1 Smith, whose name he placed in nomination at the 1928 Democratic Convention, gained him the governorship of New York and the uncritical good will of Irish and Italian voters throughout the country.

At the same time, Roosevelt’s experiments in “social reform” at Albany, where he appointed former social settlement workers to administer his new unemployment and emergency relief programs, recommended him to professional liberals everywhere. As Governor, he activated the State Employment Service along lines which American Fabians had been urging since the eighteen-nineties and he made other innovations likely to find favor with the leaders of New York City’s garment workers. True, his old classmates at Groton and Harvard—while conceding that Franklin was a gentleman—rated him something less than a mental giant; but even this might be viewed as an advantage in politics, where the too conspicuous exercise of brainpower did not necessarily insure popularity.

To compensate for any possible cerebral shortcomings, he was thoughtfully provided with a “brain trust”’—a term of British Fabian origin—whose traveling expenses to Albany were reputedly paid by the Twentieth Century Fund. Among others, Felix Frankfurter, whom Roosevelt had known ever since the former served on Wilson’s War Labor Policy Board, and such polite former Wilsonian Socialists as Stuart Chase and Fred C. Howe met with the Governor both before and after his nomination as President. Once in office, he could be expected to put into practice plans that Woodrow Wilson had merely been able to foreshadow.

A no less vital factor in the progressive education of the President-select was his energetic and ambitious wife, Eleanor. While Franklin served his country during World War I from a desk in the Navy Department, Eleanor had joined the National Consumers League in New York. (12) Inspired and directed by the Quaker-Marxist, Florence Kelley, (13) the Consumers League was a prime medium through which American Fabians captured the leadership of social reform activities during the first three decades of the twentieth century. Ostensibly it crusaded against sweatshops, child labor and excessive hours of work for women, and lobbied for standards of industrial safety. Many public-spirited citizens were naturally moved to support such worthy and emotionally appealing causes. In fact, Newton D. Baker, Secretary of War under Woodrow Wilson, once served as president of the Consumers League without suspecting its long-range Socialist objectives.

The Consumers League was only the first in a long list of Socialist-inspired organizations with which Eleanor Roosevelt was to affiliate herself during a long and active life. Through it she was introduced to that curious demi-world of social settlement workers, left wing labor organizers and assorted academic, literary and political crusaders that Robert Hunter has described. Their channels of communication extended from Toynbee Hall in London to Hull House in Chicago to the Henry Street Settlement in New York and Hale House in Boston.

Thus Eleanor came to know Lillian Wald, Jane Addams and Frances Perkins who, like Florence Kelley, had spent some years at Hull House. Through these and other new friends, Eleanor Roosevelt met and fraternized with female leaders of the Fabian Society on post-World War I trips to England. She had been educated in England as a girl, and in the nineteen-twenties she had attended and lectured at Fabian Summer Schools there. The genteel, high-minded tone of British Fabian Socialism impressed her, as well as the fact that it had achieved political power in the name and with the support of labor.

After 1921 Eleanor brought two New York organizers of the Women’s Trade Union League—now the International Ladies Garment Workers Union—to see her husband and to tutor him in the theory and background of the trade union movement as they knew it.(14) One was Rose Schneiderman, a red-haired firebrand who had organized the shirtwaist workers in bygone days and who in 1920 became, with Felix Frankfurter, a founder of the Civil Liberties Union and a member of its board of directors.(15) The other was Maude Schwartz, an Anglo-Irish woman, active in the Fabian-led British labor movement for many years before coming to this country.

Both were practicing Socialists, adept at winning converts through heart-appeal rather than dogma. They told their host about the English cooperatives, developed with the help of Socialist trade unions, which had their imitators in some sections of America thanks to the early efforts of James Warbasse. (16) They fired his sympathy with tales of ancient wrongs corrected as a result of union action and stirred his mind with the practical possibilities of an expanded and politicalized trade union movement in America. The seeds they sowed, in the course of various sickroom visits during the early nineteen-twenties, later bore fruit in the National Recovery Act, the purpose of which was not only to raise wages and prices according to a Keynesian formula, but also to foster the growth of labor organizations bound to Roosevelt by ties of personal loyalty.

Never a serious student, Franklin Roosevelt had been accustomed since boyhood to deriving his ideas from conversations with trusted intimates and members of his family circle, while retaining a superficial air of jaunty independence. It was not surprising, therefore, that his mother’s old friend, Colonel House, (17) should have been the very first Fabian planner to perceive that young Franklin was a rare jewel, to be polished, placed in the proper setting and flashed with dazzling effect upon the world at an appropriate moment.

Above all, House recognized that Roosevelt possessed a certain adaptability, both personal and political, which the unbending Woodrow Wilson had lacked. The Squire of Hyde Park—inclined as a young man to look down his nose through his pince-nez at ordinary folk—had succeeded in developing a genial, outgoing personality, marked by high good humor, which would enable him to adjust the most arrant Socialist novelties to the realities of machine politics. “Mr. Sinclair, I cannot go any faster than the people will let me,” he told the admiring Upton Sinclair in an interview soon after his election.(18)

Even an infantile paralysis attack in 1921 that left him a cripple failed to disqualify Franklin Roosevelt for the historic role he had been chosen, possibly unawares, to fill. A fine head, a triumphant smile, and a golden voice on the air, with radio just then becoming a potent political factor, (19) could be deployed to distract popular attention from the fact that he had suffered physical impairment. As Frances Perkins, his devoted associate for many years, pointed out, one political advantage of his infirmity was that it obliged him to suffer bores cheerfully. He could no longer walk away from them, as he had been apt to do in his more impatient youth.

In 1932 Colonel House lived just two blocks from the Roosevelt home on East Sixty-fifth Street in New York City. Early that year, the small gray master-marplot slipped in and out of the Governor’s town house almost ‘daily to proffer advice and tactical suggestions. Despite his advanced age—he was then seventy-four—House still had a national network of politically influential friends who knew what was happening in State politics and could sway the votes of State delegations. And despite his own depression-shrunk fortune, he was said to be one of four men who contributed $10,000 to Roosevelt’s pre-convention campaign. The others were: Jesse I. Straus of Macy’s, who had originally headed the Governor’s emergency relief organization in Albany and who was afterwards named Ambassador to France—a precedent-shattering appointment; William Woodin, who became Roosevelt’s first Secretary of the Treasury; and Frank Walker, later Postmaster General, an anti-Smith Catholic from the Midwest who had just sold a chain of motion picture houses to Paramount and who, like another early Roosevelt backer, Joseph P. Kennedy, enjoyed the confidence of West Coast movie moguls.

In those months, the radical-minded Colonel proclaimed to still solvent Wall Street acquaintances that the capitalist system as they had known it was finished and that Franklin Roosevelt was the man picked by experts to salvage the remains. For services rendered, House was modestly rewarded by being permitted to choose Roosevelt’s first Ambassador to Britain, Judge Robert Worth gingham of Louisville, Kentucky—whose son, Barry gingham, in 1947 became a founding member of the Americans for Democratic Action.(20)

The Colonel’s own days of White House authority were over, never to be revived. Somewhat wistfully, he saw his former guest room privileges and direct telephone wire conferred on younger favorites whose radical bias was as unsuspected by the electorate as his own had been. He had set the stage, however, for a new breed of informal Presidential advisers—more potent, more elusive and more definitely committed to policies of Fabian Socialist origin than any mere Kitchen Cabinet of the past. The extra-constitutional method devised by House for relieving a Chief Executive from the burden of independent decision has become accepted practice today.

Other leading pre-convention strategists were Roosevelt’s former New York State campaign manager, Louis M. Howe, and U.S. Senator Cordell Hull. As a congressman, Hull had written the first Federal Income Tax Law of 1913, as well as the revised Federal Income and Inheritance Tax Laws of 1916–omitting to place a permanent ceiling on either of them. It is unlikely that the homespun statesman from the Tennessee hills ever dreamed that the rather moderate bills he drafted might provide a basis at some future date for a “redistribution of the national income,” as proposed by Fabian Stuart Chase in 1932–and as included since 1918 in the Fabian-dictated program of the British Labour Party. (21) The fact that an old-line southern Democrat had been induced to sponsor the basic legislation so ardently desired by all spokesmen of gradual Socialism was an early and notable example of success for the Fabian technique known as permeation.

Personally conservative but politically regular, Hull was appointed Secretary of State by Roosevelt at a moment when brain trusters did not regard that department as of primary importance to their plans. Just then the sole foreign policy issue that stirred them was the diplomatic recognition of Soviet Russia, a project in which American as wel1 as British Fabian Socialists took a lively interest.

As in Britain, this move was described as offering vast foreign trade possibilities—if sufficiently lenient long-term credits could be arranged for the nearly bankrupt Russians. The Soviets’ well-publicized intent to purchase huge quantities of cotton in the southern United States (a promise that came to little) helped win Hull’s consent to the establishment of diplomatic relations with that Ishmael among nations. It was the first outstanding misstep of the Roosevelt Administration in the field of foreign policy.

At a later date—as The New York Times’ well-informed Washington bureau chief, Arthur Krock, reported—Hull’s authority was repeatedly circumvented by assistants having a direct pipeline to the White House. Many of his policy-making functions were also preempted by specially appointed presidential envoys and by Roosevelt’s preference for acting as his own Secretary of State in crucial negotiations. That type of personal diplomacy, originally commended to Woodrow Wilson by Colonel House and enthusiastically practiced by each succeeding Democratic President, tended to nullify the advisory roles of the Senate and the Cabinet as defined in the Constitution.

Instead, something vaguely resembling the British Privy Council system came into being—the difference being that the Washington version was unsanctioned by custom or law or tradition, and that the identity of the White House counselors was often unknown to the general public and subject to change without notice. If bystanders wondered why Cordell Hull, an old style American in the mold of Andrew Jackson, submitted so long to such indignities, they concluded charitably that he remained at his post some twelve years in order to avert a mass invasion of the State Department by hungry New Dealers and One Worlders—as occurred, in fact, after his retirement.

From the outset, however, Secretary Hull was obliged to tolerate the presence of a select number of Harvard-trained Frankfurter proteges in key State Department positions. On his arrival, Hull found Herbert Feis already ensconced in the economic section. Feis was assisted from 1933 to 1935 by Professor Alvin H. Hansen, public speaker and occasional pamphleteer of the LID, the first of the older Harvard economists to embrace the doctrines of John Maynard Keynes.(22) Alger Hiss, who had begun his career as the law clerk of Supreme Court Justice Holmes, rose to become director of the State Department’s Political Affairs Section and secretary of the Postwar Policy Planning Committee.

Secretary Hull evidently disliked having members of the Frankfurter coterie foisted upon him and managed to divest himself of some from time to time. But, apart from an occasional delaying action engineered by his supporters on Capitol Hill, there was not a great deal he could do to stem the tide of encroaching Socialism—or to discourage its covert Communist beneficiaries.


Soon after his election to the Presidency in 1932, Franklin Roosevelt met privately in Washington with a group that included Felix Frankfurter, Fred C. Howe and some dozen members of Congress. With the notable exception of Congressman Fiorello La Guardia of New York City, the legislators came chiefly from the western states. Strangely enough, they did not belong to the Democratic Party, but styled themselves Progressive Republicans. All had bolted to Roosevelt in 1932 and sought assurances that their aid would be suitably requited.

Politically, they were a hybrid species. The elders among them, Senators George C. Norris of Nebraska and Hiram Johnson of California, dated from the Bull Moose era, as did Frankfurter and Howe. After helping to split the Republican Party in 1912, they threw their weight behind the Wilson Administration. From 1924, they had enjoyed the somewhat eccentric backing of the Conference for Progressive Political Action, precursor of the modern-day Americans for Democratic Action. “Conservation of natural resources” was the high-sounding slogan by which these solons maintained themselves in office and justified their emancipation from such routine concerns as party loyalty. They joined or supported the Public Ownership League of America; (23) nominally a nonpartisan organization,(24) whose perennial secretary and guiding spirit, Carl D. Thompson, was a former national campaign manager and information director of the Socialist Party.(25)

As early as March, 1924, Senator Norris had introduced a bill providing for a nationwide government-operated system of electric power. Admittedly, it was conceived by the Public Ownership League and promoted at a so-called superpower conference held on January 16-17 at the Hotel Hamilton in Washington, D.C. (26) Senator Norris registered at the opening session and addressed the conference, pledging all-out support. A committee was named to assist him in drafting a superpower bill. Heading that committee was Father John A. Ryan, (27) later known as the padre of the New Deal—and once identified by the Washington Star, in a renowned typographical error, as chairman of the “Socialist Action Committee” of the National Catholic Welfare Conference.(28)

The original Federal power bill (S-2790) was a bold one, clearly transcending mere government ownership and distribution of electric power. As Carl Thompson had stated from the first, the purpose of the Public Ownership League was not only to secure public ownership of utilities but also Federal control of railroads, coal and “all industrial forces depending upon electric power for their successful operation.” (29) As if by some process of thought transference, the introduction of America’s first public power bill coincided with a move in England to electrify the railroads, (30) and with proposals initiated by British Fabian Socialists to install the grid system of public power. In Russia, Lenin’s mammoth (and even now only partially completed) scheme for electrification of all Soviet industries and farms under State control had just been announced.

At that date, as might have been expected, the public superpower bill failed on Capitol Hill. So did a subsequent bill (S-2147) of 1926 providing for a Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and a joint resolution (SJ-163) the following year—both filed by Senator Norris at the request of the Public Ownership League. By that time, however, the true mastermind of the public ownership movement in America, H. Stephen Raushenbush, second-generation Fabian Socialist and onetime secretary of the LID, had developed a more cautious plan for what he termed “encroaching control” designed to lead to “ultimate abolition of the profit system.”(31) Champions of direct revolutionary action complained that his “Program for the Gradual Socialization of Industry”(32) resembled the formula for achieving chastity a little bit at a time prescribed by Leo Tolstoi in The Kreutzer Sonata. In the booming United States of 1927, both methods appeared equally unlikely to succeed.

The central feature of the Raushenbush program was a government-operated Power Authority, a term he seems to have coined. It was to serve as a “yardstick” for private industry and, by demonstrating superior virtue, lead to the eventual extinction of the private sector. From a book entitled The Public Control of Business by Keezer and May, (33) Raushenbush unearthed a pertinent item, namely, that there appeared to be no constitutional obstacle to the Government’s operating a business or industry, provided such action was declared to be in the public interest. Indeed, as numerous court decisions seemed to confirm, it was easier for the Government to go into business than to “regulate” existing enterprises. That handy loophole, publicized by Stephen Raushenbush, provided the legal sanction for a whole series of business ventures soon to be undertaken by the New Deal Administration—not only in the field of electric power production, but also in housing, rural electrification, farm mortgages and agricultural products, storage, insurance and general banking.

With the onset of the Great Depression, the Public Ownership League’s scheme for a so-called Tennessee Valley Authority was once more revived. This time, however, it was offered on the pretext of providing employment and stimulating recovery. Electric power was not so much as mentioned in Senator Norris’ TVA bill of 1933. Other features were added piecemeal through a series of supplementary bills, until at last the plan emerged full-blown. In March, 1935, David Lilienthal, director of the TVA, finally felt it safe to announce: “These dams are not being built for scenic effect, these millions of dollars are not being spent merely to increase business activities in this area. These dams are power dams, they are being built because they will provide electric power.”(34)

It was not until 1937, however, that the actual scope of the TVA was disclosed to the American public. The assembled blueprint, showing a whole chain of dams linked together under the grid system to form a gigantic nationwide public power complex, (35) closely resembled the original sketch drafted by the Public Ownership League between 1923 and 1925. Both the plan itself and the gradual means by which it was achieved illustrate the strategy of Fabian Socialism more clearly than any other of the numerous schemes which devotees of that revolutionary faith have launched in this country.

Begun on a small local scale, its slow encroachment mirrors the origins and progress of the Fabian Socialist movement in the United States. It would seem, therefore, a coincidence that the first municipally owned power plant in America should have been established in 1896, at a time when British instigators of the American Fabian League were actively promoting municipal ownership of public utilities at home; and that America’s first city-owned electric plant was located in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts (36) home town of Edward Bellamy!

Over a quarter century of patient penetration and permeation was required before the public-power movement was able to entrench itself in the national government, securing the potent aid of Federal tax money. At the time, only a handful of non-Socialist observers discerned the implications. One was The New York Times’ ever-vigilant Arthur Krock. On December 21, 1933, Krock reported that the TVA, “while not very expensive as things go under President Roosevelt,” had spent over forty millions of a fifty million dollar appropriation in less than a year of initial activity. And he commented shrewdly, “It is, even more than NRA or AAA, a social and economic laboratory.” With the great mass of Americans numbed by the hurricane-like effect of the Depression and a Socialist camarilla riding high in Washington, such discreet warning passed largely unnoticed.

The TVA has now been in operation some thirty years, quietly but steadily expanding its empire and accepted almost as a natural phenomenon by a new generation. The ultimate step, total control over all key industries, appears to have been necessarily postponed. But not forever. TVA was and still remains, as Norman Thomas revealed, (37) the enterprise nearest and dearest to the hearts of American Fabian Socialists and the one most central to the accomplishment of their long-range plans for making (and taking) over America.


President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt’s meeting with Felix Frankfurter, Fred C. Howe and Republican Progressives in Congress preceded by only a few months the revival of the Tennessee Valley Authority project, disguised as an anti-depression measure. It was one of the earliest bills to be rubber-stamped for passage under the New Deal, and there is no reason to suppose its intent was unknown to the President. Naturally, its champions wished to be assured in advance of the incoming Executive’s blessing, as well as to be certain they would have a voice in naming officials charged with the administration of TVA and allied programs.

From that meeting of minds, there emerged a novel type of patronage, based more on ideology than constituencies, which for a time baffled political experts and continues to trouble many loyal Democrats today. Several seemingly mysterious Cabinet appointments, announced soon afterwards by Roosevelt, were traceable to recommendations by Republican Progressives. Felix Frankfurter, who had organized the Progressives-for-Roosevelt, became a kind of one-man employment service for placing liberal lawyers and economists in the Executive departments and agencies. The new order of precedence provoked Alfred E. Smith in 1936 to a pained and picturesque outburst. “Who is Ickes?” he cried. “Who is Wallace? Who is Hopkins, and in the name of all that is good and holy, who is Tugwell and where did he blow from? . . . If La Guardia is a Democrat, then I am a Chinaman with a haircut.” (38)

A little field research along the sidewalks of New York might have given A1 Smith a clue. For in 1934, two years after Roosevelt’s election, several persons influential in the formation of the New Deal were listed as teaching at the Rand School of Social Science, which A1 Smith once helped inadvertently to preserve. They were Stuart Chase, Rexford G. Tugwell and Raymond V. Moley.(39) In 1930 and 1931, institutes on unemployment, social insurance and public power had been held at the Rand School to prepare the Socialist faithful for the shape of things to come. The superpower movement, which claimed Governor Smith as a supporter,(40) acted in close understanding with leading British Fabians—as indicated by a letter of November 13, 1930, printed in Fabian News, from the Public Ownership League’s Carl D. Thompson to Alderman A. Emil Davies, later chairman of the London Fabian Society.(41)

It would have shaken quite a few unsuspecting Democrats to know how many major and minor officeholders under the New Deal had been connected for years with organizations pledged to further the programs of Fabian Socialism in America. Such attachments ranged from the Rand School and the League for Industrial Democracy to the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Consumers League, the Public Ownership League, the New School for Social Research, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Government Planning Association, the Public Affairs Council and other social democratic concoctions—up to, and including, the Fabian Society of London. If the great majority of officials who formed the intellectual core of the New Deal were Democrats, in the sense that the average American understood the term, then Al Smith certainly was a “Chinaman with a haircut!”

Of course, Smith must have known that Henry Agard Wallace, the New Deal Secretary of Agriculture who later became Vice President and in 1944 only missed by a phone call becoming a future President, had supported his (Smith’s) candidacy in 1928. Wallace was the son of Henry Cantwell Wallace, a leading Midwestern Republican who had been Secretary of Agriculture under Presidents Harding and Coolidge. He was the grandson of still another Henry Wallace, a member of President Theodore Roosevelt’s Country Life Commission. Henry the third, however, was a Republican Progressive who had jumped early aboard the Democratic bandwagon.

As editor of the family newspaper, the Iowa Farmer, young Henry by his articles and speeches helped to carry the traditionally Republican Corn Belt for Franklin Roosevelt. In that campaign Wallace was aided by the Socialist-led National Farmers Council, whose organizer, Ben Marsh, openly supported the aims of the Public Ownership League. (42) For eighteen months before the election Wallace had also been calling for a reduction in the gold content of the dollar, combining the old dream of the Bryan bimetallists with John Maynard Keynes’ seductive vision of a managed currency. Though a country boy, Wallace was not unsophisticated.

While he cultivated a dreamy and mystical air and a friendship with the well-known Irish poet, “A. E.,” who brought news of the Fabian-led British cooperative movement to American farmers,(43) Wallace also had a taste for scientific experiment. In his spare time he had developed a special strain of hybrid corn which made possible higher crop yields. Through its American grain agent, Dr. Joseph Rosen (who had himself crossbred a new and hardy variety of rye seed), the Soviet Government during the nineteen-twenties displayed an interest in Wallace and his hybrid corn experiments.

The communications and transactions that ensued, in turn, aroused Wallace’s friendly interest in what American liberals used to call the Soviet experiment—where a surplus of foodstuffs has never been a political problem. Given the tolerant attitude toward Russian Communism that Wallace took with him to Washington, it is not surprising that the Department of Agriculture became in 1934 under Harold Ware the center of the first identified Communist cell in the United States Government.(44)

By 1936 many sober citizens were inclined to agree with Fabian Socialist Stuart Chase that “Henry Wallace had lifted American agriculture bodily out of the free market system. . . .(45)

Wallace’s chief lieutenant in Agriculture was Rexford Guy Tugwell, another poetaster and rapt observer of the Soviet economy. In 1915, at the age of twenty-four, he had published a Whitmanesque effusion that read:

We begin to see richness as poorness; we begin to dignify toil.

I have dreamed my great dream of their passing,

I have gathered my tools and my charts;

My plans are fashioned and practical;

I shall roll up my sleeves—make America over.

A free verse paraphrase of the Victorian quatrain so popular among early British Fabians, those lines expressed the credo that was to guide Tugwell and his friends through life. “Why should Russians have all the fun of remaking a world?” wrote his Rand School colleague, Stuart Chase, in A New Deal.(46)

Tugwell blew into Washington from the economics department of Columbia University, having previously taught at the University of Pennsylvania and Washington State. One of the first Socialist-minded economists allowed to translate his theories into government practice, he made the most of the opportunity. There was little in the application of the early New Deal in which Tugwell did not have a finger. Besides abetting Wallace in a forlorn attempt to transform abundance into scarcity by ploughing under crops and killing suckling pigs, Tugwell also sat on the Housing Board, the Surplus Relief Administration, the Public Works Board, the President’s Commercial Policy Committee and other newly created bodies. He fathered the thought, seconded by the President’s Commercial Policy Committee, of grading all industries according to their efficiency and utility and denying tariff protection to those judged a “burden” on the United States.

It was Tugwell who proposed that consumers be represented, in addition to labor unions and employers, on the twenty-seven industry boards to be set up under the National Recovery Act. The object of this seemingly benevolent move was to cut prices and profits, while increasing wages—a prelude to the disappearance of the profit system, which a number of early New Dealers believed to be close at hand. Like some other impatient neo-Fabians, Tugwell was chagrined at the New Deal’s failure to abolish the profit system at once; and like Wallace, he moved leftward with the years. His last fling in public office was as Governor of Puerto Rico from 1945 to 1948, during a period when thousands of islanders were being airlifted via non-scheduled planes to New York City,(47) there to find themselves enrolled on the public welfare and registered as voters for the Communist-line Congressman, Vito Marcantonio.

Hand in hand with Tugwell, two other early New Deal enthusiasts pushed through the scheme for giving consumers’ groups the decisive voice in fixing wages and prices under the National Recovery Act. They were Fred C. Howe and Mary Harriman Rumsey. Still a Fabian Socialist at sixty though calling himself a Progressive, Fred Howe was a relic of the old muckraking era and a veteran member of the League for Industrial Democracy. (48) Named to the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA), he soon moved to the NRA Consumers Advisory Board where Mary Rumsey flourished. One of the wealthiest women in America, Mary Rumsey was the sister and mentor of W. Averell Harriman, Administrator of the NRA in 1934-35. (49)

An intimate of Eleanor Roosevelt and Frances Perkins, Mary Rumsey shared their social outlook, having veered a good deal toward the Left since her debutante days when she founded the Junior League. Frances Perkins described her fondly as “a convinced and advanced liberal.”(50) The Rumsey estate in the fox hunt country near Middleburg, Virginia became a happy hunting ground for spokesmen of cooperative agriculture and nonconformist economics. Mary Rumsey had struck up a close friendship with the Irish poet-economist, “A. E.,” the London Fabian Society’s gift to American farmers; and she was feted in top level Fabian-Labour Party circles on her periodic trips to England. Long a supporter of the National Consumers League (NCL), Mary Rumsey saw to it that the so-called consumers’ representatives appointed to NRA boards were drawn from lists approved by the NCL. A two-to-one vote against industry was normally the result.

Outstanding among the lady politicos who stamped their features and foibles indelibly on the New Deal was Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins. A professional social worker, Frances Perkins had been trained at Hull House in Chicago, merely transferring the views and enlarging the contacts acquired there when she moved on to New York. Her first assignment in Albany was as a lobbyist for the National Consumers League and the Women’s Trade Union Council. (51) She specialized in reforms having an emotional appeal for intellectuals and a vote-getting appeal among labor organizations.

As Industrial Commissioner of New York State under Franklin D. Roosevelt, she had imported a promising young LID economist, Paul H. Douglas, from Chicago to draft the Governor’s unemployment and relief program. (52) Commissioner Perkins proved so useful in gaining the support of New York City’s garment workers and other Socialist-led labor bodies, that FDR took her to Washington as the first female Cabinet member in history—an appointment warmly urged by Eleanor Roosevelt, Felix Frankfurter and the fast-fading Colonel House. Her personal influence with the President was exceeded only by that of her bosom friend, Eleanor Roosevelt, and her protégée and fellow social worker, Harry Hopkins. Certainly, her quiet but adroit contribution to the labor politics of the New Deal was highly prized.

Secretary Perkins’ twelve-year tenure in the Department of Labor was marked by an influx of Socialist-recommended economists, analysts, statisticians, investigators and legal experts that to this day has never ceased. They were following the advice of Stephen Raushenbush to infiltrate government offices at every level. Some were so reticent and mouse-like that their entry into the Federal service was tantamount to a disappearing act, and a full-dress congressional investigation would have been required to discover them. One of the more prominent examples, however, was Dr. Isadore Lubin, a lifelong collaborator of the LID, who served his apprenticeship as president of the Intercollegiate Socialist Society at Clark and Missouri.(53) Provided with some protective coloration by a recent tour of duty at Brookings Institute, Dr. Lubin was triumphantly ushered into the Department of Labor by Frances Perkins.

There, with immense industry and true Socialist zeal, Lubin reorganized the Bureau of Labor Statistics whence official indices on employment and unemployment still issue, often at moments best calculated to create political effects. Dr. Lubin developed the oracular Consumer Price Index, which remains a constant but invisible factor in the inflationary spiral—although its underlying assumptions have seldom been questioned and never checked. He is one of the few Americans who could claim to have improved on the statistical methods of the British Fabians.

Dr. Lubin’s talents were not restricted to his job as Commissioner of Labor Statistics. In May, 1940, when FDR revived the National Defense Council in the confident anticipation of America’s entry into World War II, (54) the President insisted on naming Sidney Hillman, LID official and president of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers, as the labor member of that council. Roosevelt asked Secretary Perkins to help her old friend Hillman; so she loaned him Dr. Lubin’s services.

Thereafter, Dr. Lubin became a kind of resident statistician to the White House, incidentally conveying to the President his own and Hillman’s views on preferential aid to Russia. From 1940 Isadore Lubin was “constantly available and incalculably valuable . . . in checking every decimal point” (55) on figures used in the President’s speeches and presentations. Since Lubin’s staff had access to the files and conferences of business people throughout the country, he was also able to keep the White House informed on the most private thoughts of management. A personal note from Lubin to Hopkins in 1941 read:

“I thought you might be interested in the following statements which are the summary of the report of one of my men who attended the recent meeting of the American Management Association….”(56)

Frances Perkins sparked the Administration’s move for nationwide unemployment insurance and old age pensions. At FDR’s request, she headed a behind-the-scenes committee to draft the Social Security Act, whose title was a masterpiece of applied psychology. (57) Like TVA this was a project designed for permanence though pushed through under the impact of the Depression. It was part of a long-range program particularly cherished by the Secretary and her chums. Early in 1933, visitors to the White House reported that Eleanor Roosevelt was urging all and sundry to read a book called Prohibiting Poverty, by Prestonia Mann Martin, then an old lady in semi-retirement but once the angel of the American Fabian League.

Even before his inauguration, Franklin Roosevelt had agreed to take steps toward setting up a system of compulsory social insurance. (58) It reflected proposals which the English Fabian Socialist, Sidney Webb, had written en bloc into the 1918 platform of the British Labour Party and which American Socialists had been urging ever since. In Britain that plan was eventually presented to the electorate as an overall scheme to abolish poverty by fostering dependence on State-operated agencies. Undertaken ten years earlier in America, however, it could not conveniently be offered in package form.

Thus the pattern of the welfare state, which England’s Fabian Socialists (59) frankly describe as “the transition from capitalism to Socialism,” was not immediately revealed to Congress or the public. As in the case of TVA, it unfolded a little at a time, through a series of gradual but cumulative measures. By now the Social Security Act has been expanded to include death benefits, widows’ pensions and some disability features. Its payments are based not upon need but upon “right.” With the addition of public medical care for the aged (which, in Russia at least, helps to speed the demise of elderly pensioners) and eventual bonus payments for childbearing, the cradle-to-grave cycle of public benefactions will be complete.

Although the New Deal’s welfare program was largely derived from British Fabian sources—having been transmitted to this country by American Fabian Socialists and such allies as Father John A. Ryan— Roosevelt chose to regard it as peculiarly his own idea. Not long before his death, he complained to intimates that England’s much touted Beveridge Plan should by rights have been called the Roosevelt Plan. (60) He pointed out that Sir William Beveridge had visited him in Washington in 1934. Like the Fabian leaders of the British Labour Party, FDR never scrupled to use welfare for electioneering purposes. Indeed, he once begged Secretary Perkins and her group to speed their initial work on the Social Security Act, saying he could not otherwise go before the voters in 1936. (61)

The legal difficulties involved in preparing the bill were considerable. There was no precedent for such action in America and no apparent justification for it under the Constitution. Help came, however, from an unexpected quarter. At a dinner party in Washington, Secretary Perkins found herself seated beside Justice Harlan F. Stone, then classed with Brandeis and Cardozo, as a liberal on the Supreme Court Bench. She confided to the Justice that she was trying to work out some plan for social insurance but could discover no way of doing so that would be approved by the Court. Significantly, he whispered to her: “The taxing power of the Federal Government, my dear; the taxing power is sufficient for everything you want and need!”(62)

So Secretary Perkins advised her committee that the taxing power could be used as a means of building up funds for future unemployment and old age payments. She told no one, except the President, the source of her superior legal wisdom. Yet, somehow, the intelligence so liberally volunteered by Justice Stone ran like quicksilver throughout the Administration, rapidly becoming a part of its operational philosophy. While the propriety of Stone’s conduct may be questioned, his informal words proved more potent than any official opinion he ever penned. They furnished the key to that magic New Deal formula which enabled Roosevelt to remain in office for the rest of his natural life and which was described in a phrase attributed to Harry Hopkins as “tax and tax, spend and spend, elect and elect!” (63)

To head the new Social Security Administration, which Congress ruled must be bipartisan, Secretary Perkins proposed John Gilbert Winant, former Governor of New Hampshire. He was one of the first important Republicans from the Eastern seaboard to be invited into the New Deal-Fabian Socialist parlor, and he stayed there to the bitter end. A year or two later, after Secretary Perkins had prevailed on Secretary Hull and congressional leaders to support a bill permitting the United States to join the International Labor Organization, she succeeded in having Winant made director of that body.

There the craggy man from the Green Mountains was exposed to the tutelage of such adroit Socialist diplomats of labor as W. Stephen Sanders and Philip Noel-Baker, (64) pillars of the London Fabian Society at Geneva. He displayed so much willingness to learn, that the British Fabian Socialist leader, Harold Laski, finally suggested to President Roosevelt that Winant be appointed wartime Ambassador to the Court of St. James. (65) In this capacity, “Gil” Winant kindly consented to address a Fabian Society Luncheon (66) and entertained the Executive of the British Labour Party at the Embassy well before that party came to power. He allowed the charming but undeniably radical Laski to write speeches for him, recommend reading matter and personal contacts, and generally “set him straight.” (67)

The International Labor Organization ( ILO ), through which Winant was able to attain those social and diplomatic heights, had been set up under the League of Nations charter, pursuant to a resolution introduced by British Fabian-Labour Party delegates at Versailles. Since that time, British Fabian Socialists have played a dominant part in its deliberations, both directly and indirectly via the Socialist International. Through the ILO machinery officials of many countries, who could not afford to be openly linked either with the Fabian Society or the Socialist International, were able to maintain discreet contacts with both. The measure of Secretary Perkins’ prestige in such circles can be inferred from the fact that she was able to get her protégé, “Gil” Winant, elected director.

Surviving the League of Nations that spawned it, the ILO operates today from Geneva under the banner of the United Nations. Labor, government, and “employer” delegates from the Soviet Union and the satellite nations as well as from the so-called free world attend its congresses, where labor and government representatives jointly vote down the representatives of free enterprise with somewhat monotonous regularity. There unheralded spokesmen of the Socialist International and the Cominform can meet and mingle unobtrusively; and there British Fabian Socialists and their allies, Scandinavian, French, Belgian and others, are seen to be in command. For that reason, United States business has refused for several years to send representatives to ILO gatherings. While the actual role of the ILO remains obscure at this point in world history, the suggestion has been made that its Geneva offices may well provide a discreet point of contact between the apparently hostile but mutually complementary Socialist and Communist Internationals. (67a)

There were only two members of Roosevelt’s Cabinet who remained from the first to the last day of his extended reign: Frances Perkins and Harold L. Ickes. Secretary Perkins has told how the President-elect, before moving to Washington, called her to his home on Sixty-fifth Street to apprise her of her new estate. Ushered into his study, she found him talking to a stocky, fair-haired man with the blunt features of a Pennsylvania Dutchman. “Frances, do you know Harold?” asked FDR. That was her introduction to Harold L. Ickes, variously known to historians as the strong man, the hatchet man and the curmudgeon of the New Deal.

If Frances and Harold did not know each other, they had friends in common in Felix Frankfurter, Jane Addams and Paul Douglas. During the campaign—then just passed—Ickes had served on the national committee of the Progressive League, whose chairman was Senator George C. Norris, chief spokesman on Capitol Hill for TVA. The League’s secretary was Fred C. Howe and its national committee included Felix Frankfurter, Henry Wallace and Donald R. Richberg, a former law partner of Ickes and later named counsel for the NRA. Formed in September, 1932,(68) just two months before the national elections, the Progressive League could only have hoped to exert a decisive influence at the polls by attracting so-called independent voters and by splitting the Republican Party through an appeal to its liberal wing. With a Roosevelt landslide seemingly in the offing, the Progressive League was also prepared to snatch the fruits of victory from the triumphant Democrats. It contrived to secure for those “progressive” elements—who had been faithful, in their fashion, to the aims of the London Fabian Society and its provincial offshoots in America(69)—a controlling voice and hand in the new administration.

Harold Ickes, technically a Democrat since 1928, boasted a long and unsuccessful career in progressive politics. A Chicago attorney, scrappy and embittered, he had won scant distinction in his profession. Instead, he made a living of sorts as a fund-raiser and campaign manager for a whole series of defeated “reform” candidates, local and national. He ran the losing mayoralty campaigns of John M. Harlan in 1905 and Professor Charles E. Merriam in 1911. From 1912 to 1914, he was Bull Moose chairman for Cook County. During the next two years he was chairman of the Bull Moose’s organization in Illinois and a member of the Progressive Party’s national committee. In 1920 and 1924 he handled the bids of Senator Hiram Johnson for the Republican Presidential nomination, then backed the elder La Follette in his third-party effort. In 1926 he managed the Illinois campaign of a defeated “independent” Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Since his student days at the University of Chicago, where he graduated in 1897 and took his law degree ten years later, Ickes had been involved with a group of scholarly reformers and academic planners headed by Professor Charles E. Merriam—afterwards a potent figure in the councils of the big tax free foundations. This group read the early publications recommended by the American Fabian League and the London Fabian Society on municipal government, public ownership of public services, and city and national planning. Its leaders conferred solemnly with Sidney and Beatrice Webb in 1898 when that oddly matched couple visited Jane Addams in Chicago. Thereafter, on the pretext of battling graft and corruption in government— always a handy issue in Chicago—a number of its members permeated civic and national organizations with a view to promoting Fabian Socialist objectives, but avoided direct identification with the American Socialist Party.

Thus Ickes, from the turn of the century, had been active in the nationwide conservation movement. He helped organize the Illinois League of Municipalities, which after 1917 supported the program of the Public Ownership League. In the natural course of events he came to know Alderman A. Emil Davies, a regular postwar visitor from London who was a charter member of the International Union of Cities as well as an honorary vice president of the Public Ownership League of America. From 1931, Ickes also belonged to an elite corps calling itself the Government Planning Association, (70) which drafted the tentative blueprint for the New Deal in consultation with a Fabian-sponsored group in London known as PEP (Political and Economic Planning ).

Recommended by Senator Hiram Johnson to be chief of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Ickes surprisingly walked away with what left-wingers of his time considered the prize post in the Cabinet. As Secretary of the Interior, he had the major responsibility for coordinating and enforcing the Public Ownership League’s superpower program. Ickes also persuaded Roosevelt to place the huge Public Works Administration under the Interior Department, arguing that he was an old hand at discouraging graft. Thus Ickes had the rare pleasure during his first year as Secretary of being authorized to spend $3,300,000 on public works, then the largest sum ever handed over to any Federal department in peacetime. And it was only the beginning!

Written into the Public Works Act by the Department of the Interior’s legal wizard, Benjamin V. Cohen, was a provision giving “cities, counties, districts and other political subdivisions” a free gift of 30 per cent (later 45 per cent) towards the cost of building publicly operated electric plants. To speed distribution of this largesse, Ickes created a special three-man Power Board to review applications. In 1935, he appointed Carl Thompson, secretary of the Public Ownership League and erstwhile Socialist Party official, to the Power Review Board.71 He named H. Stephen Raushenbush, philosopher of “encroaching Socialism” and chairman of the Socialist-sponsored coal and giant power Committee, to a spot in the Bituminous Coal Division, later making him “coordinator of compliance.” In 1941, Raushenbush was quietly transferred to the Economics and Statistical Branch of the Interior Departments Division of Power, retiring as chief of that strategic service in 1947.(72)

First or last, a rather remarkable array of well-known and lesser known advocates of gradualist Socialism turned up on the Interior Department payroll. Ickes sent Ernest Gruening to Alaska and Robert Morss Lovett to the Virgin Islands—two of many LID notables with whom the Secretary shared his tax-supported good fortune. He put John Collier, who later wrote a pamphlet for the Fabian International Bureau, in charge of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, with Felix Cohen of the LID as Assistant Solicitor. Ickes’ own testy speeches and writings, which gained him a reputation for mordant wit and enabled him to wage a one-sided vendetta with the stricken business community of the thirties, were reputedly the work of Saul Padover, an angry young man who in after years became a founding member of the Americans for Democratic Action.(73)

Endowed with the power to allot large chunks of Federal money for public construction in cities and states, Ickes dispatched a small army of scouts from Washington (sometimes referred to as Harold’s Gestapo) to spy out the land. Obviously, they were in a position to exert substantial pressure on city, state and county political organizations, which duly returned the New Deal to office in four successive national elections. It would be naive to suppose that Ickes, an old campaigner tasting the sweets of power at last, failed to take full advantage of his opportunities. Apart from personal loyalty to Roosevelt, Harold loved his job and was determined to make both the New Deal and himself permanent fixtures in Washington. He was the first member of the Cabinet to greet FDR’s suggestion of a third term with eager approval, challenging an unwritten law respected since the days of George Washington.

Nearly a billion dollars from Ickes’ original public works appropriation—and more at later dates—was diverted by President Roosevelt to temporary works-projects, set up to provide direct Federal relief for the nation’s unemployed. (74) As an emergency measure, this unconventional step might be justified by the real and widespread human need existing in 1933. There is evidence, however, that the temporary emergency was unnaturally prolonged by other administration policies which delayed industrial recovery. Three and a half years and six billion dollars later, unemployment relief was still being administered on an emergency basis—with the most vocal pressure groups, organized by Communist unemployed councils, getting a disproportionate share. While consumer industries revived somewhat, mining and manufacturing, which constituted the real strength of the country, declined. It was not until the outbreak of war in Europe, when the United States was called upon to fill military orders for the French and British, that America’s basic industries were finally able to restore production lines on a nationwide scale.

The man whom Roosevelt placed in charge of distributing Federal unemployment relief was one of the oddest bits of human flotsam to be washed up by the Great Depression on the shifting sands of American history. Harry Hopkins was a courtier from the Corn Belt. In later years he had the look of an emaciated scarecrow in a battered gray fedora. His great talent lay in pleasing and impressing just the right people in his chosen sphere. Nominally devoted, during most of his career, to improving the condition of the poor, he escaped as often as possible to the diversions of racetracks, theaters and nightclubs and showed a marked preference for the company of the fashionable, the rich, the powerful (75)—providing they were “liberally” inclined.

No king’s almoner of old ever had access to such resources as were placed at Harry Hopkins’ command, nor more freewheeling liberty of action in dispensing them. Whether it was love of spending, personal ambition, a fanatical devotion to “the Chief,” a Socialist creed, or some strange combination of all these that impelled him, even his best friends agree that patriotism was not his ruling passion. Frances Perkins once described him as “a shrewd man who had become acquainted with a lot of Democratic politicians while administering relief and the WPA.”(76) So well acquainted, indeed, had Hopkins become with them that (though not even an official delegate) he was placed in charge of Roosevelt headquarters at the rigged 1940 Democratic Convention where FDR was nominated for the third time.

The pragmatic principle which guided Harry Hopkins as director of Federal Emergency Relief, afterwards called the Works Progress Administration, was expressed by his principal aide, Aubrey Williams, speaking at a relief conference in Washington: “We must stick together. We must keep our friends in power.” (77) When seeking the approval of a Senate Committee in January, 1939 to his appointment as Secretary of Commerce, Hopkins admitted that statement had been made; but pleaded a man’s right to “one indiscretion. (78) For American Fabian Socialists, as for their comrades in Britain, power was the goal!

Harry Hopkins, who ultimately acquired a degree of personal power second only to the President’s, began his career as a social settlement worker at a salary of $5 per month—and disbursed over $5,000,000 during his first two hours as a Federal official. (79) With a kind of inverse snobbery, he liked to refer to himself as the son of an Iowa harness-maker; though the truth was, the elder Hopkins applied himself for only a few years to that fast-failing trade. While Harry was growing up the family subsisted mainly by selling candy, magazines, soft drinks and sundries to college boys from the nearby Grinnell campus.

As a student at Grinnell College, Hopkins was deeply influenced by two of his teachers, Dr. Edward A. Steiner and Professor Jesse Macy. Dr. Steiner, Austrian-born and a convert from Judaism, had once visited Leo Tolstoi in Russia and written a book about it. At Grinnell, Steiner occupied the chair of Applied Christianity endowed by Elizabeth Rand and held not many years before by Dr. George Herron, original chairman of the American Socialist Party. Professor Macy, who taught one of the first political science courses in America, had spent some time in England during the formative years of the London Fabian Society. He had imbibed its social and economic outlook and regaled his pupils at Grinnell with firsthand recollections of Sidney and Beatrice Webb.

After Hopkins’ graduation, Steiner found an opening for the young man on the staff of a small social settlement house in New York. Though not much attracted to social work as a calling, Harry took the virtually unpaid job because it afforded him a chance to get to the big city.(80) Once there, he stayed and did what was expected of him, moving as rapidly as possible, however, into the administrative realm of organized charity. By 1924 he was Executive Director of the New York Tuberculosis and Health Association, which had built up a reserve of $90,000 and which Hopkins left with a deficit of $40,000. (81) His political leanings can be inferred from the fact that he voted the Socialist Party ticket in 1917, and in 1924, like many Socialist intellectuals, went progressive with La Follette. (82)

During the summer of 1928, Hopkins took an expense-paid trip to London to study municipal health administration. This was a field long preempted by British Fabian Socialists operating through the London County Council, and his field trips inevitably brought Hopkins into touch with members of the Fabian Society. To his wife he wrote that he found the British program superior to anything in America. Hopkins’ meteoric rise, that began soon after his return from England, is suggestive of the manner in which the London Society rewards its approved and faithful permeators. From the autumn of 1928, Hopkins came more and more to the attention of Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt’s intimates, especially Eleanor Roosevelt, (83) interested as always in the social welfare approach to politics.

In 1931, the merchant prince Jesse I. Straus invited Hopkins to Albany to assist in administering a program of State unemployment relief. A year later Straus withdrew, leaving Hopkins in full charge. At Albany, as later in Washington, Hopkins introduced a species of work relief first suggested in this country by Father John A. Ryan in his so-called Bishops Report and based on proposals made by a Quaker group in England after World War I. Actually, the idea of work relief for the unemployed had been developed in Britain at the turn of the century by Joseph I. Fels, the American soap magnate who joined the London Fabian Society. Fels’ experiments were reported by the American Fabian Socialist, W. D. P. Bliss, (84) in his New Encyclopedia of Social Reform in 1908.

To win approval of New York labor organizations for his work relief scheme, Hopkins was obliged to work closely with Frances Perkins, Industrial Commissioner for the State. In less than two years he supervised expenditures of some 60 million dollars from bond issues, without scandal and with evident benefit to Roosevelt in the campaign of 1932. The new State relief agency received sympathetic press treatment from such Harvard alumni as Heywood Broun, then a popular columnist on the New York World and always a warm friend of Hopkins.

Within a remarkably short time Hopkins had endeared himself permanently to Eleanor Roosevelt, who adopted him into the family and sponsored him in every future endeavor. Soon after being elected to the Presidency, FDR also received an exceptional commendation of Hopkins from Jane Addams, dean of social welfare workers in America. That is how a harness-makers son from Iowa, with a private taste for high living, managed to get to Washington in May, 1933.

There he dispensed a total of nine billion dollars in direct Federal relief over five years, until new laws were finally written and the Works Project Administration was abolished. Though such sums have come to seem almost routine today, at that date they were rated astronomical. Hopkins’ activities as Federal Relief Administrator won the unqualified approval of so ardent a Fabian Socialist as Stuart Chase, who observed hopefully that historians of the future might very well regard Harry Hopkins as one of the world’s greatest administrators.(85)

While it lasted, the WPA was easily the most controversial agency in government, not only because of its informal bookkeeping methods, but because it became a sounding board for much radical propaganda of the period. That was the decade of the so-called Popular Front against Fascism, in which Socialists and Communists throughout the world collaborated openly. In 1934, the eminent British Fabian Socialist and pacifist, Sir Norman Angell, (86) visited Washington and toured the country as a member of “le comite mondiale contre la guerre et le fascisme,” (87) the world-wide Popular Front organization headed by Henri Barbusse, renowned French novelist and identified Communist. Youth, professional and cultural groups were its special targets, and its success was conspicuous in branches of the WPA that catered to such groups.

Some critics were inclined to blame Hopkins’ principal aide, Aubrey Williams for the fact that left wing agitators flourished on WPA time, notably in theater, motion picture, art and waters’ projects. There is evidence, however, that Williams was encouraged by persons more highly placed than himself. Far from being reproved, he was made director of the National Youth Administration. In July, 1941, Williams joined Eleanor Roosevelt, Justice Felix Frankfurter and Librarian of Congress Archibald MacLeish in sponsoring the American Youth Congress at Campobello. (88) This congress was organized on the initiative of the British Fabian Socialist, Betty Shields-Collins, secretary of the London Fabian Society’s Anglo-American group and prewar secretary of the World Youth Congress movement.(89) Prominent at the Campobello rally was the perennially youthful Joseph P. Lash—a particular pet of Eleanor Roosevelt—who had been a leader of the Student League for Industrial Democracy and had also confessed to Young Communist League affiliations.(90)

A dangerous by-product of the tolerance towards Communists which top-level American Fabian Socialists practiced as consistently as their British brethren, was disclosed some years later. After long and painstaking inquiry, the Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security concluded that the National Research Project of the WPA had served “as a kind of trapdoor through which underground Communists gained access to the Government” in the middle nineteen-thirties.(91) A number of individuals since identified as Communist agents entered the Federal service through that handy trapdoor, some rising to posts of major responsibility under the Roosevelt and Truman Administrations. Transferring from department to department by a kind of mutual aid agreement with like-minded colleagues, they were not only able to supply information but also to affect the policies of government itself. (92)

Eleven persons linked with Communist spy rings were discovered by the Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security to have entered the Federal Government via the WPA. An overall total of eighty persons in Federal service, thirty-seven of whom attained posts of high importance, were unmasked by the Subcommittee as connected with Communist spy rings. All were directly or indirectly linked with the group in the WPA. It has since been confirmed that appropriate authorities, up to and including the White House itself, were duly apprised of the facts by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; but continued to protect and promote the offenders. (93) As a result, a small but well-placed network of covert Communists in Federal service enjoyed a field day which lasted for years, rising the most secret files with impunity and “sharing all that we have and are” (94) with Soviet Russia.

Incredible as it seems, the lenience that made such things possible originated at the uppermost level of government. Franklin Roosevelt’s personal attitude was revealed when he ignored repeated warnings from FBI and other sources concerning Communists in the U.S. Government. In 1942, in wartime, he blocked removal from merchant ships of radio operators “whose only offense was in being Communist.” (95) The President’s stand was officially conveyed by Secretary of the Navy, Frank Knox, at a meeting with naval officers on May 19, 1942. According to the minutes of that meeting:

“. . . The Secretary then spoke and said that he held no brief for the activities of the Communist Party; but that the President had stated that, considering the fact that the United States and Russia were allies at this time and that the Communist Party and the United States efforts were now bent towards winning the war, the United States was bound not to disapprove the activities of the Communist Party, and specifically not to disapprove the employment of any radio operator for the sole reason that he was a member of the Communist Party or that he was active in Communist Party affairs. The Secretary further stated that this was an order and must be obeyed without mental reservations.” (96)

Soon afterwards a Naval Intelligence Unit in New York City, set up to control Communist espionage and propaganda, was dissolved by the Bureau of the Budget, (97) which had been transferred from the Treasury to the White House by an historic Executive Order of 1939. Instructions were issued requiring Army Intelligence to destroy its files on Communists, similar to the demand made by Woodrow Wilson after World War I. Only prompt action by members of Congress saved the Army records from destruction in World War II.

If some members of Roosevelt’s wartime Cabinet held no brief for the Presidential policy of being kind to Communists, and if most government officials were either unaware of it or accepted it with mental reservations, the same could not be said for the President’s more intimate circle. FDR’s strict concept of personal loyalty required that any individual whom he fully trusted must see eye to eye with him on matters he considered basic. And once having adopted an idea, he regarded it as peculiarly his own, often forgetting the source from which it came.

Roosevelt believed, for instance, that by giving Stalin everything he asked for during the war, no matter how excessive the request, the proletarian dictator would be bound by some principle of noblesse oblige to cooperate loyally in setting up a postwar world of peace and plenty. How did FDR know this? He had a hunch! And besides, Harry “The Hop” Hopkins had told him so.(98)

This is not to say that Roosevelt was himself a Communist, as has sometimes been loosely suggested. Having been trained and dominated for a good many years by Fabian Socialist advisers, perhaps he simply demonstrated the same protective attitude towards Soviet Russia and its agents as did those British Fabians whose road in the end has always led toward Moscow. Only convinced Fabian Socialists and liberals at the very pinnacle of political power in Washington could do for the Soviet Communists what they were unable to do for themselves, both at home and abroad.

Hitler’s invasion of Russia on June 22, 1941 had aroused intense but mixed emotions among Anglo-American Fabians. If it restored fraternal bonds previously strained by the Stalin-Hitler pact, the joy of feeling together again (99) was shadowed by anxiety for the future of the Soviet Union. As usual, American liberals and progressives, who shunned the Socialist name while faithfully playing the game, echoed the sentiments of their British tutors with a special urgency of their own. They could hardly wait to pour out the products of American industry and skill in defense of the threatened Socialist Fatherland.

On July 27, FDR dispatched Hopkins as his confidential messenger to Stalin with an immediate offer of Lend-Lease aid, even though Soviet Russia was not yet an Ally of the United States. At that time public opinion in America was strongly opposed to this country’s entering the war, and few persons outside the President’s official family realized the extent of his private commitments, not only to Churchill but also to Stalin. Less than a year before, Roosevelt had won election for the third time by virtue of his promise to the mothers and fathers of America: “I am not going to send your sons into any foreign war.” That meant he could not ask the Congress to declare war against the Axis powers, unless the United States were attacked. In such case, as FDR pointed out to intimates, it would no longer be a “foreign” war!

Hard upon Hitler’s invasion of Russia, the New Deal Administration proceeded to exert such diplomatic pressure on Japan as could hardly fail to provoke an open breach. It is interesting to find that Vice President Henry Wallace, by then an outspoken friend of Soviet Russia, took the initiative of writing to his Chief: “I do hope, Mr. President, you will go to the absolute limit in your firmness in dealing with Japan.”(100) By November, 1941, if not before, it was apparent to such informed persons as Harry Hopkins that war in the Pacific would come at the convenience of the Japanese(101)—the only question being where and when. Soviet Russia, it has since been learned from captured Japanese police records, thoughtfully arranged to help bring about the required incident.

Through the intrigues of a Dr. Richard Sorge, Red Army Intelligence operative, Japanese militarists were persuaded, during the summer and fall of 1941, to strike southward at American, French, Dutch and British possessions, instead of northward at Soviet territory. (102) Sorge, a German citizen but a member of the Russian Communist Party, (103) had managed to entrench himself as press attache at the Nazi Embassy in Tokyo. Because his nine-year old spy ring also had contacts with influential and high-ranking Japanese, he succeeded in engineering the desired coup.

On October 15, just a day or two before his arrest in a general police roundup, Sorge was able to radio Moscow that his mission had been accomplished and that Japan would strike to the South. The blow fell at Pearl Harbor on December 7. More than two thousand Americans lost their lives, the U.S. Pacific Fleet was crippled, and the United States became an Ally of Soviet Russia.

Thereafter aid unlimited would flow from America to the Workers’ Fatherland. In a letter of March 7, 1942 to United States war agencies, Roosevelt ordered that priority in munitions be given to the Russians above all other Allies and even above the armed services of the United States. Technically, the Lend-Lease Act of 1941 had stipulated that war materiel could only be sent abroad if the Army and Navy Chiefs of Staff certified it was not required for American military forces. This posed no problem, however, for the Commander-in-chief or his personal Lend-Lease representative, Harry Hopkins. According to Hopkins’ biographer, General George C. Marshall expressed the belief that he originally owed his appointment as Army Chief of Staff to Harry Hopkins. (104)

From beginning to end, it was Hopkins to whom Roosevelt entrusted the task of dispensing weapons, equipment, machinery and raw materials to our overseas Allies on a scale never seen before in history. Comparatively, the amounts that had been expended on the WPA were mere small change. Under the impetus of the war emergency, 60 billion dollars worth of assorted supplies were freely given away, with little if any ever refunded or expected to be. “Let’s forget the silly, foolish old dollar sign!” President Roosevelt gaily told the American people in one of his more famous “fireside chats.”

Of the total, a recorded 11 billion dollars went to Soviet Russia, though the real value has never been accurately assessed. Such munificence not only insured the salvation of the Bolshevik Government, whose pact with Adolf Hitler had touched off World War II. It also made possible those secret postwar stockpiles (105) which enabled the Red Army to annex its Baltic and Balkan neighbors as well as Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia and East Germany in the years immediately following World War II.

By contrast, only a trickle of warplanes went to Chiang Kai-shek’s China, ostensibly an Ally, whom we should aid, at a time when the capital, Chungking, was being bombed daily, on a twelve-hour schedule. Of the materiel that did reach Chiang Kai-shek, some lacked spare parts and some was unfit for combat use.(106) Hopkins never found time to get to Chungking himself, though he made several trips under almost equally hazardous conditions to London and Moscow. For the most part, he left the mangled details of China aid to his assistant, Lauchlin Currie—later named by Elizabeth Bentley testifying before the Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security as a “full-fledged member of the Silvermaster [Communist] group” (107) and a prime collaborator of wartime Soviet espionage groups in Washington.

As the undisputed czar of Lend-Lease, operating sometimes with and sometimes without portfolio, Hopkins was in his element. Temperamentally, there was nothing he enjoyed more than spending money, and no one ever had more to spend. Caring little for titles or personal wealth, he was entranced by the perquisites and the sense of power—a point of view that he seems to have shared with many Socialist and Communist leaders.

Warned by the experience of an earlier White House confidant, Colonel House, Hopkins was careful not to overplay his hand. Prudently he described himself as no more than an office boy, and he displayed such intense devotion to the President that newsmen remarked that Hopkins would have jumped off the Washington Monument if FDR had happened to suggest it. Yet in the area of wartime production and distribution, Harry Hopkins was in effect the Deputy President of the United States, a function quite unforeseen by the framers of the Constitution.

In matters of the gravest consequence, he was both intermediary and adviser to the President, making his headquarters at the Executive Mansion and actually residing for several years in the Lincoln bedroom. Chronically ill with a nutritional ailment following an operation for stomach cancer, Hopkins summoned from some mysterious reserve the energy to serve as expediter and hidden persuader for the duration of the war.

Besides the ever present Dr. Isadore Lubin, Hopkins’ own preferred aides included Leon Henderson of the Office of Price Administration and Sidney Hillman and Robert Nathan of the Office of Production Management. (108) Of these, Lubin and Hillman were long time officers of the (Fabian Socialist) LID; while Henderson became a founding member of the postwar Americans for Democratic Action.

At the American Embassy in London, where John Winant reigned and Benjamin V. Cohen acted as wartime counsel, Hopkins could fraternize unseen with top British Fabian Socialists, among them Herbert Morrison, Home Secretary and Minister of Home Security in Churchill’s coalition Cabinet. (109) As early as 1940, Hopkins had written to Roosevelt, ‘We must marshal our complete economic strength for the task of defense,” adding in approved Fabian Socialist vein: “This means that instead of retreating from our social and economic objectives, we should push forward vigorously to abolish poverty from the land.” (110)

It was through Hopkins that the apparently nonpolitical Dr. Vannevar Bush, then Dean of Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, felt constrained to submit his now famous memorandum to the President on new weapons research, notably in the field of atomic fission. Together with Hopkins, Dr. Bush prepared a letter of authorization for FDR’s signature, setting up the organization that led to development of the atom bomb. In conversations at Casablanca during January, 1943, Winston Churchill discussed atomic matters with Roosevelt in Hopkins’ presence. A month later Churchill initiated a lengthy cable correspondence on the subject with Hopkins. The Prime Minister protested because the United States had suddenly ceased pooling information on atomic research with its British Ally. (111)

The reason was that in December, 1942, at a secret laboratory located under the stands of the University of Chicago’s Stagg Field, a team of American scientists had finally succeeded in splitting the atom. At this point the project moved from the research stage into the field of weapon design and construction, under control of the War Department. Dr. Bush spelled out the revised information policy in a memorandum of March 31 to Hopkins, which concluded: “To step beyond it would mean to furnish information on secret military matters to individuals who wish it either because of general interest or because of its application to non-war or postwar matters. To do so would decrease security without advancing the war effort.” (112)

Clearly, Hopkins was one of a very few persons who were conversant from the start with the atom bomb project in America. He was also precisely informed on the policy called for by military security. If he chose to ignore or override such precautions, it could only be attributed either to an incurable lightness of mind or a well developed tendency to favor other interests above those of the United States.

Not until late in 1949 was it definitely proved, on the strength of reliable records and equally reliable United States Army witnesses, that wartime Federal agencies had shipped to Soviet Russia rare chemicals and minerals suitable for use in atomic research, along with miles of alloy tubing and pipe that could be used in construction of an atomic pile. At least three-quarters of a ton of uranium chemicals were found to have been delivered through Lend-Lease channels to Russia in March and June, 1943, and in June, 1944. It was further confirmed that 2.2 pounds of pure uranium was sent from this country to the Soviet Union at a moment when the entire American stock amounted to 4.5 pounds.(113)

Such forbidden items could not possibly have moved through the Lend-Lease pipeline without official United States certificates of release, (114) issued by order of Harry Hopkins. Responsible testimony was given to a committee of Congress indicating that Hopkins was not merely aware of these transactions but took a keen interest in pushing them through. In March, 1943, when information on atomic matters was apparently being withheld from Churchill, an official but apparently purloined map of the Oak Ridge atomic plant and a report on details of its construction went forward to Russia by plane via Great Falls, Montana. Clipped to the documents was a covering letter on White House stationery, signed simply H. H. and addressed to A. I. Mikoyan, then Soviet Deputy of Foreign Trade in charge of Lend-Lease at the receiving end.(115) Here was the supreme example of what Soviet Purchasing Commission employees in New York referred to ironically as Super-Lend-Lease!

The Fabian face cards in the New Deal have been exposed. For the first time in history a program of gradualist Socialism, backed by political power and perpetuated by every trick of applied psychology, was put into effect. Instigated by the foremost brains of the London Society, it was implemented by Fabian Socialist intellectuals and welfare workers in the United States who used many well-meaning or accommodating citizens as unconscious tools. Above all, its leaders had access to the apparently limitless industrial and financial resources of the greatest capitalist nation on earth. Thus the Fabian Socialist movements in America and England moved into a new phase, in which nomenclature did not matter and where dealings between governments were manipulated on instructions from International Socialists in London. Without the combined efforts of highly placed Fabian Socialists both in England and America, the apparently uneasy but none the less recurrent coalition of the Second and Third Internationals could never have come about.


1. Harry W. Laidler and Norman Thomas, Editors, The Socialism of Our Times. A Symposium by Harry Elmer Barnes, Stuart Chase, Paul H. Douglas, Morris Hillquit, Harold J. Laski, Roger N. Baldwin, Paul Blanshard, H. S. Raushenbush and others. (New York, The Vanguard Press, Inc.–League for Industrial Democracy, 1929). “Introduction,” by Harry W. Laidler, pp. Xi ff. “It may be called by some other name.”

2. Mark Starr, “Cheer Up Comrade cole!” Institute of Social Studies Bulletin, Rand School, (Summer, 1952), p. 68. Starr wrote: “As Socialism, collectivism, public ownership and control become necessary in the United States, they will be adopted in specific instances and cases. It may be called by some other name, but, as in the case of the Tennessee Valley Authority, public ownership will be applied after appropriate discussion and debate if the need is demonstrated; and there will be no quibbling about whether Marx, Stalin or Cole would okay that action.”

3. See Appendix II.

4. According to testimony given in 1952 before the Reece Special Committee of the House of Representatives to Investigate Tax-exempt Foundations.

5. See appendix II. For Freda Kirchwey’s friendship with Laski, see Kingsley Martin, Harold Laski: A Biographical Memoir (New York, The Viking Press, Inc., 1953), p. 128. “Freda Kirchwey, editor of the New York Nation, an old friend . . . whose political opinions had developed similar lines to his own [Laski’s].”

6. Stuart Chase, A New Deal (New York, The Macmillan Co., 1932), pp. 155-156.

7. Ibid., pp. 190-193.

8. H. S. Raushenbush, “Some Measures in Transition,” The Socialism of Our Times. A Symposium. Harry W. Laidler and Norman Thomas, eds. (New York, The Vanguard Press, Inc.–League for Industrial Democracy, 1929), p. 42.

9. Ibid., p. 40. “Yet the problem of government officials is a major problem of immediate socialism. In Germany, after the revolution, the bureaucracy was nationalist and nearly sabotaged the republican government until it had been replaced. One good man with his eyes, ears and wits about him, inside the department–whether it be the Interior where the oil scandal started and the Boulder Dam Bill received most active support, or the Treasury where the taxation scandals breed and the government tax policies originate–can do more to perfect the technique of control over industry than a hundred men outside.”

10. Ibid., p. 45.

11. “Livingstone Hall Lectures.” Fabian News (May, 1934).

12. Frances Perkins, The Roosevelt I Knew (New York, The Viking Press, 1946) p. 18.

13. In 1920 Florence Kelley was also president of the Intercollegiate Socialist Society, and after 1921 a vice president of the League for Industrial Democracy.

14. Perkins, op. cit., pp. 30-32.

15. See Appendix IV.

16. See Appendix II.

17. House was responsible for naming young Roosevelt, as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, to the Advisory Interdepartmental Committee. There Roosevelt’s friendship with Felix Frankfurter, then counsel for the War Labor Policy Board, seems to have begun.

18. Forty Years of Education (New York, League for Industrial Democracy, 1945), p. 16.

19. In her Livingstone Hall lecture, reported in Fabian News of May, 1934, A. Susan Lawrence, M. P. said that, while the tone of the New York press was comparatively critical, an “American expert” (who was evidently a Briton) had remarked to her: “The Wireless can whip the Press al the time.”

20. See Appendix V.

21. A sharply graduated system of income and inheritance taxes had been advocated by the American Fabian League in the eighteen-nineties. In 1928 it was still a plank in the official program of the American Socialist Party. Members of the Socialist National Campaign Committee, which issued the 1928 handbook containing that program, were listed on the cover as follows: “W. E. Woodward, Norman Thomas, Freda Kirchwey, McAllister Coleman, Paul Blanshard, James O’Neal, Harry Elmer Barnes, James H. Maurer, Lewis Gannett, Victor Berger, Louis Waldman.” All, without exception, have been officers and/or directors of the League for Industrial Democracy.

22. Seymour E. Harris, John Maynard Keynes. Economist and Policy Maker (New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1955), p. 208.

23. Public Ownership. A Monthly Journal Published by the Public Ownership League of America. Carl D. Thompson, Editor. (Chicago, December, 1923), p. 53. Eleven members of Congress, including Senator Norris and Congressman Fiorello La Guardia, were named as supporting the Public Ownership League. The same journal stated in June, 1935 p. 72: “The Public Ownership League now has some ten or fifteen members of Congress who are also members of the Public Ownership League.”

24. The Call Magazine (July, 1917), p. 7. This magazine, a Socialist publication, described the Public Ownership League as “strictly non-partisan,” and added: “Many noted and prominent members of the Socialist Party, including two members of the present Executive Committee, are members of the League.”

25. The name of Carl D. Thompson appeared on Socialist Party letterheads and campaign leaflets from 1912 to 1916.

26. Public Ownership (February, 1924), pp. 54-55.

27. Ibid. Other members of the committee included: James P. Noonan, International President of the Electrical Workers; Ben Marsh, Executive Secretary of the National Farmers’ Council; Jennie Buell, Michigan State Grange; Charles K. Mohler, consulting engineer, Chicago.

28. Washington Star (November 8, 1931).

29. The Call Magazine (July, 1917), p. 7.

30. Public Ownership (February, 1924), p. 58.

31. H. Stephen Raushenbush, “Cataclysmic Socialism or Encroaching Control,” New Leader (March 5, 1926).

32. H. Stephen Raushenbush, “Program for the Gradual Socialization of Industry,” New Leader (March 12, 1927).

33. Dexter M. Keezer and Stacy May, The Public Control of Business. A Study of Anti-Trust Law Enforcement, Public Interest Regulations, and Government Participation in Business (New York, Harper & Brothers, 1930 edition).

34. Chattanooga News (March 1, 1935).

35. The New York Times (June 6, 1937). “Our Dreams Come True. Our plan for a Public Power System for the United States Slowly but Surely Being Realized,” Public Ownership of Public Utilities (September, 1937).

36. Public Ownership of Public Utilities (September, 1937), p. 76.

37. Norman Thomas, Democratic Socialism: A New Appraisal, (New York, League for Industrial Democracy, 1953), p. 6. “Of recent years the majority of American Socialists have been–I think correctly–insistent that the model for what is socially owned is not the Post Office Department but the Tennessee Valley Authority, with provision for direct representation of workers and consumers on it.”

38. Quoted in the New Republic (September 15, 1958).

39. Rand School Bulletin, 1934-35.

40. Public Ownership (December, 1923), p. 53.

41. Other issues of Fabian News show Davies to have been a frequent visitor to the United States in the nineteen-thirties. His biography in Who’s Who describes him as follows: Alderman and past Chairman of the London County Council; Fellow, Royal Economic Society; former lecturer in Economics, University of Leeds; Member, Permanent Bureau International Union of Cities; Chairman, City and Commercial Investment Trust, London, England. In 1923 his son, Ernest Davies, who succeeded his father on the Fabian Executive, worked for the New York Globe.

42. Public Ownership (February, 1924), p. 55.

43. A. E.’s real name was George William Russell. Born an Orangeman in Lurgan County, Ireland, he discovered Theosophy in 1898 and the Fabian Society soon afterwards. In 1930-31 he spent a year in the United States lecturing on agricultural cooperatives to farmers from Maine to California. In 1934 he made another lecture tour, linking the New Deal’s rural electrification schemes with his own cooperative farm propaganda. He contributed to Commonweal, Catholic World, The Nation, The New Republic, etc. See Biography of Twentieth Century American Authors (New York, Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1954).

44. Harold Ware was the son of Communist Ella Reeve Bloor. He had previously been decorated with the Order of Lenin for his work on State farms in the USSR. Members of the original cell included Alger Hiss, Lee Pressman, John Abt and Nathaniel Weyl, according to testimony given before the Internal Security Subcommittee of the Senate judiciary Committee.

45. Stuart Chase, Rich Land, Poor Land (New York, McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1936), p. 246.

46. Stuart Chase, A New Deal (New York, The Macmillan Co., 1932), p. 252.

47. R. L. Martin, American Aviation (May, 1948). First report of that curious population movement appeared in American Aviation. Its scope and purpose were revealed in a subsequent investigation by the New York World Telegram.

48. See Appendix II.

49. W. Averell Harriman has held many diplomatic and administrative posts under the Roosevelt and Truman Administrations. He was Governor of New York from 1955 to 1959. In the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations he has served as Assistant Secretary and Under Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs, and finally Roving Ambassador.

50. Perkins op. cit., p. 206.

51. Ibid., p. 10 ff.

52. Ibid., pp. 104-105.

53. See Appendix II.

54. Perkins, op. cit., p. 355.

55. Robert Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins, An Intimate History (New York, Harper & Brothers, 1948), p. 216.

56. Ibid., p. 286. (Author’s Note: Isadore Lubin was posted after the war to the United Nations. As U. S. Delegate to the UN Social and Economic Council in 1951, he joined British Socialist delegates in pushing through a resolution to set up the Ad Hoc Committee on Restrictive Business Practices. This would have exposed American firms doing business abroad to surveillance and prosecution by a proposed International Trade Organization operating under the Havana charter which accepted State owned monopolies and cartels as benign. It was not until 1955 that the U. S. Delegation ceased officially to collaborate in this project. As of 1962, Dr. Lubin was listed as Professor of Public Affairs at Rutgers University.)

57. The lengths to which research in Applied Psychology, as a means of molding public opinion, was being carried at that time can be inferred from an article appearing in the Journal of Social Psychology (February, 1934). Written by A. D. Annis and N. C. Meier, it was solemnly entitled: “The Induction of Opinion Through Suggestion, by Means of Planted Content.”

58. Perkins, op. cit., p. 278.

59. Michael Stewart, M. P., “Labour and the Monarchy,” Fabian Journal (March, 1952).

60. Perkins, op. cit., pp. 283-284.

61. Ibid., p. 294.

62. Ibid., p. 286.

63. Frank R. Kent of the Baltimore Sun claimed Hopkins had made this statement to a mutual friend, Max Gordon, at the Empire racetrack in New York. Hopkins naturally disavowed it.

64. The late Philip Noel-Baker, a recipient of the Socialist-controlled Nobel Peace Prize, was a Quaker who succumbed to the lure of Fabian “peace” propaganda. As a youth he attended Haverford College in Pennsylvania, and until his death continued to cultivate many friendships in the United States.

65. Kingsley Martin, Harold Laski: A Biographical Memoir (New York, The Viking Press, Inc., 1953), p. 139.

66. “Luncheon to the American Ambassador,” Fabian News (October, 1941).

67. Martin, op. cit., pp. 139-141. Following the Allied victory in Europe, Winant served on the European Advisory Council, being himself advised by George F. Kennan and Philip E. Mosely. Winant was later reported to have died a suicide.

67a. In June, 1966 George Meany led an AFL-CIO labor delegation out of the International Labor Organization, because a Polish Communist had been elected that year to head the ILO. Meany had never protested in other years, however, when international Socialists were chosen to fill the same post.

68. Helen Shirley Thomas, Felix Frankfurter: Scholar on the Bench (Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1960), p. 23.

69. Under the heading, “Provincial Societies,” Fabian Society Annual Reports for 1925 through 1930 listed “the league for Industrial Democracy of New York.” Organizations like the Civil Liberties Union, the National Farmers Council, and the Public Ownership League were in turn offshoots of the ISS-LID.

70. Reorganized in 1934 as a quasi-official body, it was later called the National Planning Association.

71. Public Ownership (June, 1935). In 1939-1941 Carl Thompson was employed as a consultant to the Bonneville Power Administration, according to testimony given by its director at hearings before the Subcommittee on Appropriations, 76th Congress, Third Session.

72. Washington Post (January 16, 1947).

73. See Appendix V.

74. Sherwood, op. cit., p. 52.

75. Ibid., p. 5.

76. Perkins, op. cit., p. 128.

77. Williams has been identified as a Communist before congressional committees; but denies this.

78. Sherwood, op. cit., p. 109.

79. Ibid., pp. 23; pp. 44-45.

80. Ibid., pp. 21-22.

81. Ibid., p. 27. (Author’s Note: Hopkins remained some seven years with the New York Tuberculosis and Health Association. As late as September 8, 1932 (ibid., p. 32) he wrote his brother, Lewis, that he was still being carried on the organization’s staff. Robert Sherwood, Hopkins’ biographer and friend, says (ibid., p. 28) that Hopkins greatly increased the Association’s income, principally through the sale of Christmas seals. Soon after Hopkins resigned, a letter from New York City Health Commissioner to The New York Times of June 8, 1932 stated that not one penny of the funds raised form the sale of Christmas seals ever went to the relief of a person with tuberculosis or to an institution for his care. It was subsequently charged that “all its money had been expended for salaries and overhead.”)

82. Ibid., p. 109.

83. Ibid., p. 30. (Author’s Note: Hopkins’ contact with Eleanor Roosevelt was initiated through Dr. John A. Kingsbury of the Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor, who had known Eleanor Roosevelt for years as a co-member of the Association for Labor Legislation. Dr. Kingsbury had befriended Hopkins from the time of the latter’s arrival in New York and had employed him as an assistant. Hopkins subsequently took Dr. Kingsbury to Washington as one of his own assistants on WPA.)

84. Ibid., p. 148.

85. Stuart Chase, Rich Land, Poor Land (New York, McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1936), p. 328.

86. Fabian News (December, 1934).

87. Sir Norman Angell, After All: Autobiography of Sir Norman Angell (New York, Farrar, Straus and Young, 1951), p. 264.

88. Perkins, op. cit., p. 110. (Illustration.)

89. Fabian News (November, 1941). In this issue it was announced that Betty Shields-Collins, just returned from America, would lecture November 17 at an International Affairs Group “snack luncheon meeting” on “The U. S. A. and the U. S. S. R.” She was described as “General Secretary to the World Youth Congress Movement until the outbreak of war; has visited America both before the war and since; is secretary to the Society’s Anglo-American group; organized the recent International Youth Rally.”

90. Martin Dies, The Martin Dies Story (New York, The Bookmailer, 1963), pp. 150-151.

91. Interlocking Subversion in Government Departments, Report and Hearings of the Subcommittee on Internal Security of the Committee on the Judiciary. U. S. Senate, 83rd Congress (Washington, U. S. Government Printing Office, 1953-54), p. 10.

92. Ibid., pp. 10-14 ff.

93. Associated Press dispatch, November 6, 1953. Chicago speech by Attorney General Herbert Brownell. (See also testimony of J. Edgar Hoover before Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security, November 17, 1953.)

94. The New York Times (June 23, 1942). This phrase is from a speech delivered by Harry Hopkins at a Russian Aid Rally in Madison Square Garden, June 22.

95. Robert Morris, No Wonder We Are Losing (New York, The Bookmailer, Eighth Edition, 1961), pp. 38-45. Memorandum for the Secretary of the Navy, signed FDR, quoted on p. 41.

96. Ibid., pp. 43-44.

97. Ibid., pp. 45-46.

98. Life magazine (June 30, 1949). Report of conversation with FDR by former Ambassador to Moscow, William G. Bullitt.

99. Margaret Cole, The Story of Fabian Socialism (London, Heinemann Educational Books, Ltd., 1961), p. 270.

100. Robert E. Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins (New York, Harper and Brothers, 1948, 1950), p. 357. Letter from Wallace to FDR.

101. Ibid., pp. 426-427. Testimony of commander L. R. Schulz to Joint Committee on the Investigation of Pearl Harbor.

102. Cf. The Sorge spy Ring. Section of CIS Periodical Summary No. 23, December 15, 1947, Department of the Army (Washington, U. S. Government Printing Office).

103. Ibid., (Sorge’s sponsors to the Russian communist Party included Dimitri Z. Manuilsky, member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and more recently a representative to the United Nations from the Ukraine.)

104. Sherwood, op. cit., p. 101.

105. Hearings Regarding Shipments of Atomic Materials to the Soviet Union During World War II, House of Representatives Committee on Un-American Activities (Washington, 1950), U. S. Government Printing Office, pp. 947-950. Testimony of Major General Leslie R. Groves, “I am sure,” said General Groves, “if you would check on the pressure on officers handling all supplies of a military nature during the war, you will find the pressure to give to Russia everything that could be given was not limited to atomic matters. . . . That particular plant was oil refinery equipment, and in my opinion was purely postwar Russian supply, as you know much of it was.”

106. Sherwood, op. cit., p. 406 ff.

107. Interlocking Subversion in Government Departments. Report and Hearings of the Subcommittee on Internal Security of the Committee on the Judiciary, U. S. Senate, 83rd Congress (Washington, U. S. Government Printing Office, 1953, 1954).

108. Sherwood, op. cit., p. 287.

109. Ibid., p. 351. In 1941 Hopkins wrote a cordial note to Herbert Morrison: “I have your tin hat for La Guardia and shall give it to him with your warmest greetings. I much regretted not seeing you and having a discussion over a high-ball. We shall do that yet.”

110. Ibid., p. 180.

111. Ibid., pp. 154-155; 703-704.

112. Ibid., p. 704.

113. Hearings Regarding Shipments of Atomic Materials to the Soviet Union During World War II. Testimony of Major George Racey Jordan, pp. 930 ff.

114. Ibid., p. 90. Major General Leslie R. Groves, in charge of the Manhattan Project, stated there was no way for the Russians to have gotten uranium products in this country “without the support of U. S. authorities in one way or another.”

115. Ibid., p. 930 ff. Testimony of Major Jordan.

Chapter 16 << | >> Chapter 18

Chapter 16-By Any Other Name

Chapter 16 of the book Fabian Freeway.

Despite some disillusioning experiences, the Socialist-inspired American Civil Liberties Union has never to this day ceased its efforts in defense of the catastrophic Left. Such consistent activity in behalf of the militants and expendables of the revolutionary movement has naturally exposed the ACLU to what its friends term “misinterpretation.” During the nineteen-twenties it was occasionally described by opponents as a legal branch of the Communist Party.(1) In 1940, it finally barred “totalitarians” from membership, a decision resulting in the protest-resignation of Dr. Harry F. Ward, its original chairman. At a later date, the ACLU took further steps to neutralize criticism by denouncing as legally untenable the principle of “guilt by association.”

In view of its origins and history, one might reasonably doubt the depth of ACLU devotion to the Flag and the Constitution. It does not necessarily follow, however, that preservation of the Communist Party is the main purpose of the ACLU. In protecting the shock troops of social revolution it has successfully deflected or blunted any incipient attack on the big guns in the rear: the intellectual leaders of the Socialist movement in America, a number of whom served on the original board and national committee, and whose modern counterparts still serve there today.(2)

This tactic of defense in depth has been employed with little or no variation from the experimental beginnings of the ACLU in 1920 to its more smoothly organized operations of the present day. In a tear sheet circulated with its 35th Anniversary appeal, the ACLU outlined its mid-century program as follows:

“Against those indiscriminate federal, state and local measures which, though aimed at Communists, threaten the civil liberties of all Americans; to make an effective civil rights program the law of the land; against both governmental and private pressure group censorship of movies, plays, books, newspapers, magazines, radio and television; to promote fair procedures in court trials, congressional and administrative hearings.”

Acting on the novel premise that good citizens are imperiled whenever sedition is curbed or obscenity is discouraged, the American Civil Liberties Union often finds itself in the position of defending both subversion and pornography on narrowly technical grounds. At the same time, it seeks a broad interpretation of the Constitution in the area of civil rights. In its Annual Report for 1961-62, the organization applauds decisions which underscore the power of the Federal Courts to impose change (3)–power not visibly allotted to the Judiciary by the United States Constitution.

Of late years, the American Civil Liberties Union has also enlarged the range of its propaganda to admit lobbying by approved private pressure groups. Moreover, a certain emphasis on its own highly specialized concept of civil liberties appears to have crept into the field of mass entertainment. Wizard television lawyers, who seldom (if ever) lose a case, dramatically “sell” the ACLU point of view to nationwide audiences without identifying it.

A liberal sampling of its latter-day activities discloses that the ACLU, while extending itself geographically and greatly multiplying its routine tasks, has never veered from its original course. In 1950, the Pittsburgh branch of the ACLU upheld the right of Communists to serve on grand juries.(4) In 1951, the national office announced its intention of challenging all future cases brought under the Smith Act, which required Communist Party officials to register.(5) In 1961, while protesting its opposition to Communism, the organization filed a brief as a friend of the court in the Communist Party’s appeal under the McCarran Internal Security Act.(6)

Public support for repeal of the McCarran Act itself was solicited by the counsel for American Civil Liberties Union in Southern California. Speaking at the First Unitarian Church in Los Angeles, he flayed the McCarran Act as being the gravest danger to the Bill of Rights in~the nation’s history.(7)

At about the same time, the chairman of the Marin County chapter —one of twenty-four Civil Liberties branches in California—questioned the legality of a Christmas crib on the courthouse lawn in San Rafael, suggesting it violated the principle of Church-State separation.(8) On the spiritual front, the ACLU’s Niagara Falls chapter also backed a test case in Federal court on behalf of the Black Muslims, who claimed that their “right to practice their religion” was obstructed in Attica State Prison; and the St. Louis ACLU Committee investigated a charge that prisoners were being denied the right to buy anti-religious books and pamphlets.(9) After praising the Supreme Court’s decision which held the nonsectarian Regents’ Prayer in New York schools to be unconstitutional, the ACLU’s Annual Report for 1961-62 predicted: “We are confident that when more sectarian religious practices (in the schools) are brought to the Court’s attention, they . . . will be declared unconstitutional . . . Christmas and Chanukah observance, Bible reading, recitation of the Lord’s Prayer and baccalaureate services.” (10) With the aid of ACLU lawyers, that impious hope has since been fulfilled.

As might also have been predicted, the ACLU filed a friend-of-the-court brief in behalf of Dr. Robert Soblen, the convicted Soviet spy, who for years had headed New York State’s largest public mental health institution. It appealed a Federal District Court decision holding that American-born Herman Marks had forfeited citizenship rights by serving in the Cuban rebel army of Fidel Castro.(11) In February, 1962, it petitioned the Senate’s Post Office and Civil Service Committee to reject an amendment to the postal-rate bill, banning the distribution of Communist propaganda.(12)

While upholding freedom of agitation for Communists and even for crypto-Nazi agents provocateur, the ACLU sought to deny military commanders the right to arm their personnel against the fallacies of Communist propaganda, though the lack of such instruction had caused an undisclosed number of soldiers and junior officers to yield to brainwashing by Chinese Communists during the Korean War. In March, 1962, the civil liberties group submitted a memorandum to the special preparedness committee of the Armed Services Committee, asserting that restriction of free speech for the nation’s military leaders “raises no civil liberties issue.”(13)

Many of the ACLU’s views sooner or later have found expression in political action. On August 17, 1963, for example, members of ACLU college chapters, acting jointly with the Students for Democratic Action, induced the Western States Conference of Young Democrats in Berkeley, California, to pass a resolution calling for repeal of the McCarran Internal Security Act.(14) It is noteworthy that in California alone, branches of the ACLU existed in 1962 at the University of California, California Institute of Technology, Long Beach State College, Los Angeles City College, Los Angeles State College and San Diego State College.(15) These are among the long-term fruits of the organizing Committee on Academic Freedom, one of its most significant and least publicized activities.

The Committee on Academic Freedom was formed in 1924, at a time when teachers and college professors were being urged to express themselves openly about the Sacco-Vanzetti case and to participate in Progressive Political Action. The original statement of the Committee was prepared by Dr. Harry F. Ward, chairman of the ACLU, and Dr. Henry R. Linville, president of the Teachers’ Union. Nominally created to aid teachers and college professors threatened with dismissal for unorthodox views, this committee progressively opened the way for the free and ever freer dissemination of radical ideas in schools and colleges. Through its ties with the American Federation of Teachers, the American Association of University Professors and various “progressive” educational bodies, it was eventually able to exert a potent influence not only on the formulation of academic policies but on the type of individuals accepted for employment.

By 1938 the members of this committee were described as being “among the outstanding leaders in American education.” (16) The Committee included three college presidents—of Vassar, Wisconsin and Mt. Holyoke. All but one of the group were listed in Who’s Who in America or Who’s Who in New York. A biographical breakdown by Dr. David E. Bunting, Dean of the University of Tampa, revealed that the typical committee member was then fifty-eight years old, had a doctor’s degree, and was a full professor in a major American university. Though economically comfortable, he was not wealthy. Politically, he either voted “independently” or for the Democratic Party. He belonged to at least four organizations espousing a “liberal” point of view, was a member of the Progressive Education Association and (usually) of the American Federation of Teachers. He was the author of at least three books, either on education or branches of the social sciences. Obviously, he was neither an average American nor an ordinary teacher, but a recognized expert in his chosen field, whose opinions were listened to with respect.(17)

What Dr. Bunting failed to mention was that fully half of the Committee’s twenty-eight members were also long time “cooperators” of the League for Industrial Democracy,(18) the key organization for the advancement of Fabian Socialism in America. They subscribed and/or contributed to the publications of the American Council on Public Affairs, which “encouraged properly qualified scholars to give greater attention to the background, analysis and solution of contemporary problems.”(19) Thus social, economic and political views considered acceptable by the League for Industrial Democracy and the American Civil Liberties Union were transmitted indirectly to the nation’s educators, who were “encouraged” to apply them not only as teachers but also in the field of public affairs.

Unobtrusively, the Committee on Academic Freedom in New York, working intimately with the LID-sponsored Council on Public Affairs in Washington, also promoted and accelerated a movement to bring “properly qualified scholars” into Washington, as well as into State and municipal governments—there to steer as far as possible the affairs of the nation. As the British Fabian philosopher, John Atkinson Hobson, had foretold, the university professor would become the secret weapon of Socialist strategy on a broader scale than ever before. The Doctor of Philosophy, with a certified “progressive” and “democratic” outlook, was being groomed to invade the administrative branches of government, no longer singly but en masse.

The specialized meaning concealed in such terms as “progress” and “democracy” was disclosed by Roger Baldwin, chief spokesman for the ACLU, who now addressed himself with increasing frequency to academic audiences. In his book, Civil Liberties and Industrial Conflict, written jointly with C. B. Randall and published by the Harvard University Press, Baldwin admitted frankly that while many persons regarded civil liberties as ends in themselves, he believed them to be “means f or non-violent progress.” (20) Progress, he said, meant “the extension of the control of social institutions by progressively larger classes, until human society ultimately abolishes the violence of class conflict.” (21) If not quite orthodox Marxist doctrine, this was a mere variation on it in terms of the fluid classes existing in American society.

Speaking at the 1936 Spring Conference of the Eastern States Association of Professional Schools for Teachers, Baldwin had also explained that by “progressive” he meant “the forces working for the democratization of industry by extending public ownership and control, which alone will abolish the power of the comparatively few who own the wealth.” (22) “Real democracy,” he stated on another occasion, “means strong trade unions, government regulation of business, ownership by the people of industries that serve the public.” (23)

That, of course, was not at all what “progress” and “democracy” implied to the average American. But Roger Baldwin was no average American, nor were the educators whom he was educating. They belonged to a rapidly expanding, carefully controlled intellectual elite, who by habitually using familiar terms to convey something quite different to each other than these terms meant to the general public, would guide America unawares along the road to that cooperative commonwealth which British Fabians also called Industrial Democracy.


Imitative in matters of basic policy, the League for Industrial Democracy outstripped its British Fabian tutors in techniques of deception. For more than half a century, the Fabian Society of London had solemnly required every member to subscribe to the Basis. When that strange document was finally replaced by a modern constitution, the first line of the latter still read: “The Fabian Society consists of Socialists.” (24)

True, the Society also had its prized semi-undercover collaborators—among others, such personages as Sir William Beveridge and John Maynard Keynes, who retained nominal membership in a virtually extinct Liberal Party. Nevertheless, anyone known to belong to the Fabian Society of London or its affiliates could automatically be termed a Socialist.

For reasons of expediency, this relatively forthright practice was abandoned by the Fabian Society’s American counterpart, the LID. Members were not only encouraged to conceal the fact of the LID’s British Fabian inspiration (as though it were a bar sinister) but even to deny publicly that they were Socialists, if in doing so they could more effectively promote Socialist policies. As Upton Sinclair noted, some old-timers were displeased when the organization ceased in 1921 to call itself a Socialist Society.(25) Yet the advantage of that fraudulent gesture became increasingly apparent as individual members of the LID were propelled to eminence in their chosen fields.

Climbers, as well as those who had already arrived, were shielded by the League’s failure to publish annual membership lists. Confronted with evidence that he had once held office in the Intercollegiate Socialist Society or the Students’ League for Industrial Democracy, a public figure often dismissed it blandly as a folly of youth, long since outgrown. That convenient loophole has been employed by such widely disparate characters as Walter Lippmann and Walter Reuther, president of the United Automobile Workers union and a vice president of the AFL-CIO; as well as by a number of equal and lesser luminaries. A glance at the record, however, demonstrates that remarkably few of the persons admitted to the League’s charmed circle of social and professional benefits have actually fallen away. The complacent truism, “Join for one year, join for fifty,” has proved to be as true of the League for Industrial Democracy as of its senior partner the London Fabian Society.

In 1943, the League modified its constitution, not solely for reasons of tax exemption but also for the sake of improved wartime camouflage. Its purpose was now asserted to be education for increasing democracy in our economic, political and cultural life. Knowledgeable insiders, of course, understood democracy to mean what Roger Baldwin and others had already defined it to mean. Namely, government regulation of business leading eventually to public ownership and/or control of industry, chiefly accomplished through the pressure and voting power of strong Socialist-controlled unions. Socialism was the “true democracy,” to be attained by anesthesia rather than violence. What final consolidation might mean was another matter, never mentioned. If anyone was deceived by the new terminology, it was only the general public.

Somewhat indiscreetly, however, British Fabians still continued to acknowledge the LID as the leading Socialist society in America. In Fabian Society Annual Reports of 1925-1930, it was even patronizingly referred to as “one of our provincial societies.” As late as 1962, Margaret Cole, while carefully minimizing its importance, recognized the LID to be among the principal overseas affiliates of the Fabian Society.(26) Its value in complementing the plans of British Socialists was indicated by Norman Thomas, head of the American Socialist Party, when he stated in a pamphlet published by the LID in 1953: “Britain’s problems admit no solution on a purely nationalist level.”(27)

Past or present, it thus becomes difficult for the LID to deny its relationship with the leading Socialist Society of Great Britain. Files of Fabian News reveal that for years League members attended or lectured at Fabian Summer Schools. Articles by LID publicists have consistently appeared in Fabian periodicals. When a League official enhanced his prestige by joining the Fabian Society of London, the item was occasionally reported in England, if not in America. Over thirty years ago, for example, Clarence Senior, long a national director of the LID and from 1961 a White House consultant on Latin American affairs, was received into the London Society. Fabian News innocently reported the event in its issue of July, 1929. Lately, however, the Society has refrained from printing the names of American members or even guests, because this tends to brand them ipso facto as Socialists.

To the LID’s 45th Anniversary event, Lady Dorothy Archibald, Fabian Socialist member of the London County Council, sent the following cautious tribute:

“. . . I have come to the conclusion that there are no short cuts to progress, but that the long and arduous road of education is the only certain way. This is the road you have followed for forty-five years and, knowing your country a little, I feel that your work as necessary as the work of the Fabian Society in the country.

“When I was directing a Fabian Summer School this last year, I had the great pleasure of having several young Americans as students. Their contribution to the School was outstanding and I was happy to discover that they were members of the L.I.D.

“It is my profound hope that the field of your work may extend every year so that the younger generation in America may receive an education in real democracy.(28)

“Greetings from Home” on the same occasion included telegrams from Senator Hubert Humphrey and the then Congressman Jacob K. Javits, Harry A. Overstreet, Upton Sinclair, Robert Morss Lovett and the Reverend John Haynes Holmes.(29) Leading all the rest, however, was a wire from Eleanor Roosevelt. As a long-standing “cooperator” and sponsor of the LID, she could hardly have failed to be familiar with its definition of “democracy.” Her message, though confounding to purists in political science, was readily grasped by persons attending the League’s anniversary luncheon. It read:

“I hope you will have a successful conference and will stress the need for making democracy work for all people as a form of government and a way of life.” (30)

To the day of her death, Eleanor Roosevelt supported the League for Industrial Democracy and half a dozen closely related organizations, a fact which she never troubled to conceal. She was introduced to it through her good friends Florence Kelley, Paul Kellogg of Survey magazine and Lillian Wald of the Henry Street Settlement, all of whom served as officers and/or directors of the organization. As her telegram suggests, Eleanor Roosevelt’s attachment to the LID was based on practical as well as idealistic considerations.

Through another close friend and early social worker, Frances Perkins, who had served as Governor Roosevelt’s New York State’s Commissioner of Labor, Eleanor Roosevelt was well informed about the potential ability of the needle trades unions in New York City to deliver the margin of victory in State elections. Top officials of both the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America and the International Ladies Garment Workers Union served routinely as officers and directors of the LID. Delegates to the 1944 Democratic Party convention in Chicago still recall the cryptic remark attributed at that time to Franklin Delano Roosevelt: “Clear it with Sidney.” Sidney, of course, was Sidney Hillman, then president of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers.

Survivors of the Roosevelt era will also remember Joseph Lash, a controversial young protégée of Eleanor Roosevelt, whom she invited occasionally to the White House and aided in obtaining a military commission during World War II. Few are aware, however, that Joe Lash was a leader of the Students’ League for Industrial Democracy (31) (SLID) in the nineteen-thirties, when it boasted over a hundred chapters and collaborated with Communist-led youth groups. It published a magazine called Revolt, later known as The Students’ Outlook. Nominally, SLID was working for “peace.” To that end, it opposed Reserve Officers Training Corps drill in high schools and colleges and urged severe limitations on military preparedness.

In those years the Students’ League also urged its members to aid professed anti-fascist movements in Europe and agitated actively in favor of what it termed “civil rights” for American strikers. Student chapters assisted the LID Emergency Committee for Strikers’ Relief, whose chairman was Norman Thomas and whose secretary was theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, with John Herling, present-day labor columnist for the Washington Daily News, serving as their assistant.(32)

Among the more promising junior Leaguers of that day were two sons of an old-fashioned Marxian Socialist of German extraction who had settled in the American Midwest. The boys were Walter and Victor Reuther, potent names in American labor today. As president in 1932 of the SLID chapter at Wayne University, red-haired Walter led a student delegation on the picket line at the Briggs Body plant in Detroit. In 1933, the two eager young Socialists spent a summer running errands for the anti-Hitler underground in Germany and then were employed for about eighteen months at the Ford automobile plant in Soviet Russia, sending back glowing reports on the Workers’ Fatherland.

Schooled in the newer techniques for capturing union leadership, Walter and Victor returned home in time to help lead the Automobile Workers Industrial Union (originally a part of the Red trade-union apparatus) into the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). The reorganized and expanded mass union, known as the United Automobile Workers union (33) ( UAW), subsequently ejected the better known Communists from its midst; and control of that increasingly powerful labor body passed into Socialist hands. The only difficulty then was and still is that no one has ever been sure how many of those undercover Socialists still remained Communists at heart.(34)

The maneuver was not generally understood at the time, and is less understood today. When it became obvious even to the Communists that American working people would not accept Communist direction, but might follow social democratic leaders as long as they did not frankly call themselves Socialists, younger men carefully trained for such a contingency took over. The Reuther brothers, who always had a foot in the Socialist camp, were ideally prepared for the role. They have been long time collaborators and directors of the adult League for Industrial Democracy and at present hold membership in a number of its loftier latter-day offshoots.

From 1933, SLID cooperated with various “direct action” youth groups and in 1835 merged openly with them to form the American Student Union (ASU). According to Mina Weisenberg, a historian and director of the LID, the ASU “became [sic] deeply infiltrated with Communists.” After five years, the Students’ League split away, not because it had any real quarrel with the Marxist philosophy of its associates, but because—as Mina Weisenberg states—it found some difficulty in justifying the Soviet Union’s invasion of Finland.

Owing to the red cloud which had dimmed its name, SLID did not publicly reestablish its college chapters until after World War II. The paid staff then included James E. Youngdahl, a nephew of the liberal Republican Washington jurist who dismissed the Owen Lattimore case, and James Farmer,(35) who went on to become national director of the Negro Council on Racial Equality (CORE). It was not until 1947 that the Students’ League took the precaution of barring known Communists from membership. Throughout the entire decade of the nineteen-forties, however, a six-week summer course, resembling certain Fabian Summer Schools in England, was held annually by the League for Industrial Democracy, to train young college people for organizing and for other union work.

According to official League historians, SLID had allegedly acted against the advice of the senior body, when it merged with the National Student Union in 1935 and for five years appeared to have severed its connection with the adult LID. Actually, SLID members were only following the example of their elders, many of whom drifted farther and farther leftward during the same period—as their Fabian counterparts in Britain were likewise doing in the nineteen-thirties. A singular predilection for Communists was evinced in that era of the united front. It was confirmed by the fact that many high ranking LID officials lent their names to organizations and committees since identified as Communist controlled.

The very amiable Robert Morss Lovett, who personally aided the National Student Union in his final years as president of the League, (36) is alleged to have held membership during his lifetime in some fifty Communist front organizations. A. Philip Randolph, long time LID official and a Socialist leader in the present-day agitation for Negro civil rights, has been connected with numerous organizations (or their ad hoc committee offshoots) which were cited as Communist fronts by Federal authorities and/or state or territorial investigating committees.(37)

In the cloud cuckoo-land of Fabian Socialism’s many cooperative ventures, individuals later cited in connection with Soviet espionage were also recruited, among others, Frederick Vanderbilt Field.

Undeniably united front activities, in which Communists, Socialists and an undetermined number of innocents were involved, flourished in America as in Britain prior to the outbreak of World War II. By some irony of fate, however, it proved a saving grace for the LID that certain outstanding figures in its New York City chapter decided at the same time to champion the cause of the exiled and subsequently murdered Leon Trotsky. This very vocal group included John Dewey, professor of Philosophy at Columbia University; Sidney Hook chairman of the department of Philosophy at New York University; officials of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU); editors of the Social Democratic New Leader, and others. By virtue of being anti-Stalinist, they were presumed to be anti-Marxist and pro-American. As late as 1952, some of them were regarded as allies and editorial outlets by supporters of the late Senator Joseph McCarthy. Once again, as in the bygone twenties, the LID was able to sidestep unwelcome notoriety and avoid being stigmatized as the effective leadership group of international Socialism in America.

The radical nature of the League for Industrial Democracy should have been obvious from the start, since its original officers and directors included such well-known early Socialist Party leaders as Morris Hillquit, August Claessens and Eugene V. Debs. In the 1924 national elections, however, the majority of LID members and friends promoted the Conference for Progressive Political Action and supported the Presidential candidacy of Senator Robert M. La Follette. Since 1928, they have thrown their weight behind the Democratic Party’s top candidate in New York State, and, from 1936, they have done the same for the national ticket. Nevertheless, the Socialist Party continued to run a nominal candidate for the Presidency, who was invariably a permanent officer of the LID.

In six national elections, that token candidate was Norman Thomas, a former Protestant clergyman, who had once headed the LID student chapter at Princeton. A native American of Anglo-Saxon stock, Thomas possessed a mellow voice, a booming laugh, and a sophisticated low-pressure approach which proved highly attractive to educators and professionals. While he never entertained the faintest hope of being elected, Thomas had reasons for keeping his name on the ballot. Among other things, his position as titular head of the Socialist Party carried with it the right of representation in the Fabian-dominated Socialist International.

Until his “retirement” in 1962, it was usually Norman Thomas who headed United States delegations to congresses of the Socialist International, and transmitted the ensuing directives to interested groups in the United States. The “restatement” of Socialist aims emerging from the International’s Frankfurt Congress in 1951—which found expression in the New Fabian Essays in Britain—was duly interpreted for Americans by Norman Thomas in a significant pamphlet entitled Democratic Socialism. Published in 1953 by the LID, his statement served as a lodestar for all domestic Fabian Socialists, avowed or unavowed.

For the edification of any innocents who still persist in regarding Norman Thomas as a true-blue American, distinguished for his apparently selfless advocacy of a broad program of social reform, (38) it may be noted that he declared in this pamphlet:

“My definition of modern socialism . . . accords with the socialist statement on ‘Aims and Tasks’ which was adopted by the Congress of Socialist Parties at Frankfurt, Germany, in 1951. It closely parallels ‘Socialism, a New Statement of Principles,’ presented in 1952 by the British Socialist Union.(39)

Like the British comrades, Thomas frankly advocated “the social ownership of such key industries as steel”—while “refusing to discuss democratic socialism in such misleading terms as total social ownership vs. total private ownership.” (40) He explained that some followers of Karl Marx—for example, Karl Kautsky—”never insisted on the need for social ownership of all means of production and distribution.” (41) Neither, as a matter of fact, did the Fabian Basis. The Machiavellian foresight of Sidney Webb, disclosed long before in Labor and the New Social Order, was tacitly reflected in Thomas’ declaration:

“. . . We have learned that it is possible to a degree not anticipated by most earlier Socialists to impose desirable social controls on privately owned enterprises by the development of social planning, by proper taxation and labor legislation, and by the growth of powerful labor organizations.”

Still more significantly, Thomas added:

“For some years American Socialists have been fairly well agreed that ‘social ownership should be extended to the commanding heights’ of our economy which include our natural resources, our system of money, banking and credit, and certain basic industries and services …. I have already argued the specific reason for public ownership of the steel industry. It meets all the tests which I have earlier suggested.” (42)

An identical program for Britain was urged at virtually the same time by the late Parliamentary Leader of the British Labour Party, Hugh Gaitskell, in Fabian Tract No. 300, Socialism and Nationalisation. (43) It has since been reaffirmed by his successor, Harold Wilson, who pledged himself to carry out the policies of Gaitskell.

In defining the relationship of “Democratic Socialism” to Communism, Norman Thomas made a plea for “non-orthodox” Marxism— especially in the United States, where “we still have a middle class in a true economic sense, while those who think of themselves as belonging to the middle class are even more numerous.”(44) Pointedly, he criticized Russian Communism as being “a betrayal of Socialism” and a subversion of true Marxism. He condemned “statism” and questioned “the necessity of a dictatorial elite in Russia”—without referring to the invisible Socialist elite in America that proposed to utilize the outward forms of democracy in order to impose a gradually frightening system of centralized controls. While deploring Soviet deceit and violence, at no point did Thomas recommend hostility towards Communism.(45) “Other associations of men,” said Thomas, improving on the Natural Law, “have an inherent right to exist.” (46)

Conscious, however, of the adverse effect which identification with an unpopular cause might have on Socialists in America, Thomas uttered a clear warning to followers and friends. Russian Communism, said he, “in its march to power has so successfully claimed Marx for its own, it has so persuaded men that Lenin and Stalin are the true successors of Karl Marx, that the socialist who rests his case upon Marx, as upon a Bible, has to fight an uphill battle. Marxist orthodoxy does not give the democratic socialist the best vantage point for his struggle.”(47) Almost verbatim, Thomas echoed the sentiments expressed by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels during their lifetime, concerning the most effective way to social revolution in the United States.

Through Norman Thomas the past and present leaders of international Socialism spoke to the New World. Thus the importance of his remarks cannot be measured in terms of the trifling vote which he commanded as the American Socialist Party’s candidate. One apparent reason for keeping that Party alive has been to mislead the American public as to the true strength of the Socialist movement in the United States, by conveying the impression it is far too tiny to represent a serious threat. Even Thomas himself admitted as recently as July 13, 1963, in a television interview with Paul Coates carried over California stations, that Socialists in this country who do not vote for the Socialist Party “have usually found it better to vote Democrat.” Many are so-called independents, committed to a program rather than a party, who forever tease aspiring Republicans with the hope they can be wooed and won.

Nor should the influence of Thomas’ statement be gauged by the limited size of the League for Industrial Democracy, which circulated the pamphlet. While the official membership of the adult LID never claimed more than four or five thousand at any time, like the Fabian Society it was a pilot organization, whose members already commanded the heights in many sectors of American life—political, educational, religious, trades union and cultural. Bishop Francis J. McConnell, for example, a former president of the Federal Council of Churches,(48) who signed the so-called Bankers’ Report of 1933 advocating recognition of Soviet Russia, was long a vice president of the League.

As vice president of Union Theological Seminary, the patriarchal Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr had also helped to shape the social thinking of generations of young seminarians. Former president of the LID New York chapter and former treasurer and board member of the national body, Niebuhr probably lent his name to more Socialist-inspired committees and organizations than any other living American. Nor did age diminish the old master’s skill in attracting highly placed sympathizers. As late as September, 1963, Attorney General Robert Kennedy announced that one of the ten books he would take with him, if going to the moon, would be Reinhold Niebuhr’s book with the oddly Manichean title, Children of Light and Children of Darkness—an unusual choice for a Catholic! (49)

In the field of labor, the League’s officers and national directors have included some of the most commanding figures in recent industrial union history: among others, David Dubinsky of the International Ladies Garment Workers; Jacob Potofsky of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers; Walter Reuther of the Automobile Workers; Arthur J. Hayes of the Machinists; James Carey, erstwhile head of the Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers; A. Philip Randolph of the Pullman Car Porters; and Boris Shishkin, former educational director of the American Federation of Labor. (50) William Green and his more liberal successor, George Meany, president of the AFL-CIO and recipient of a League award, seldom ventured to refuse an invitation to address LID conferences. While LID control of trade union machinery was not all-embracing, and was certainly far less obvious, than that of the Fabian Society in Britain, at least it provided a firm base of political and financial support for internationally derived Socialist programs in several key electoral states, notably New York New Jersey, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Illinois.

A small galaxy of United States Senators has been listed among the LID veteran collaborators. That senior legislative group includes: Paul H. Douglas of Illinois, Wayne Morse of Oregon, Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, the late Richard Neuberger and his widow, Maurine Neuberger of Oregon, the late Herbert Lehman of New York, and Jacob K. Javits, who as a congressman was for years a regular and applauded speaker at League conferences. It was Senator Lehman, however, who distinguished himself at the League’s 45th Anniversary symposium on “Freedom and the Welfare State” by saying:

“A hundred and seventy years ago the welfare state concept was translated into the basic law of this land by the founders of the republic …. The founding fathers were the ones who really originated the welfare state.” (51)

An astounding misuse of the measured phrase in the Preamble to the Constitution, “to create a more perfect union and to promote the general welfare”—all the more so, because the definition of “welfare” has suffered several changes since 1787!

The weight exerted to this day by individual LID members and their trainees in education, government administration, the United Nations, and the private “research” foundations, is subject matter for separate study. A whole chain of interlocking organizations, aspiring to mold the outlook of public opinion makers and to draft the policies of United States Government agencies, has quietly come into being, each with a solid core of LID elder statesmen and their younger disciples. By no means have all of the League’s tried and true supporters found it necessary to choose “the hard way.”

In adapting the tactics and programs of British Fabianism to our native scene, the small, once struggling and always reticent League for Industrial Democracy fulfilled its mission of penetrating and permeating the fabric of American life. Its peculiarity stemmed from the fact that it was from first to last a Socialist creation. Although the accent might be American, its voice was the voice of international Socialism controlled by British Fabians.


The surprising thing is that anyone should ever have doubted the Socialist intentions of the officers, members and conscious collaborators of the League for Industrial Democracy. Successive presidents, from Robert Morss Lovett to Nathaniel M. Minkoff, have made no secret of their radical beliefs. There was the venerable philosopher John Dewey, father of Progressive Education, who was said to have inherited the pragmatic mantle of William James, yet permitted himself to be identified with the Trotskyite or Lovestoneite wing of American Marxism.

Next president of the LID was Elizabeth Gilman, wealthy and socially prominent spinster, a leader of the Urban League and perennial chairman of the Socialist Party in Maryland. She was followed by Bjaarne Braatoy, former professor of Government at Haverford College, who served in the World War II Office of Strategic Services, working intimately all the while with the Fabian International Bureau. At war’s end he was employed as tutor and “technical assistant” to the German Social Democratic Party and thereafter became world chairman of the Fabian-dominated Socialist International.

Not least, there was Mark Starr, British-born and Fabian-bred, a pet pupil of G. D. H. and Margaret Cole. For some thirty years he proved to be a strong, indisputable link between the New Fabian Research Bureau in London, where the modern leadership of the Fabian Society was centered, and the Fabian Socialist movement in the United States. No product of ivied halls, Mark Starr nevertheless became president and board chairman of the foremost society of intellectual Socialists in America. From 1935 to 1961 he also served as educational director of the ILGWU—perhaps the most internationally minded labor union in America, with a membership of 450,000 and declared assets of some 425 million dollars (as of June, 1962).

Through Mark Starr, the G. D. H. Cole brand of Marxism tinged with Syndicalism was transmitted to a potent sector of American labor. It was Starr who institutionalized a good many of the Coles’ special ideas on labor politics, labor education and politico-labor research in the United States. As late as 1952, he asserted that education for the abolition of private profit was the prime purpose of all education.(52) In 1949, according to a report issued over his own signature by the ILGWU educational department, Mark Starr “wrote Labour Politics in the U.S.A. for the British Fabian Society, and a pamphlet for the United World Federalists.” (53) Published by the Fabian Society-Victor Gollancz in England, Labour Politics in the U.S.A. was issued as a fifty-six page pamphlet by the LID.

Son of a miner, Mark Starr had worked in the coal mines as a boy and served during World War I as local officer of the South Wales Miners Federation. Referring to his origins, Starr remarked many years later in a personal letter that if he had not been a radical, he “would have been a moron.” Possibly this view was colored by the fact that from the age of fourteen he was educated at Fabian-operated workers’ schools and the London Labour College.

Before emigrating to America in 1928, Starr was for seven years a division officer of the National Council of Labour Colleges in Britain. He belonged to the little Independent Labour Party, headed by some of the more stridently left wing Fabians and openly sympathetic to the Communist cause. During that period he was also associated with Margaret Cole—a founder of New Fabian Research who was elected president of the Fabian Society in 1963 and who took a lively interest in promoting a species of Socialist indoctrination for working people broadly termed “further education.” (54)

On reaching New York, Starr was promptly hired to teach at Brookwood Labor College, which between 1925 and 1928 had received an outright grant of $74,227 from the Garland Fund.(55) Soon he was placed in charge of Brookwood extension courses. Despite his own very sketchy academic background, in 1941 Starr became vice president of the American Federation of Teachers. In 1944, he was appointed labor consultant to the Office of War Information, whose Director, Elmer Davis, was once a fellow director of the LID.(56) By that time, of course, Starr had taken out American citizenship— though he preferred to consider himself a “citizen of the world”—and in March, 1949, organized an ILGWU symposium on “World Government.”(57)

In 1948, President Truman named Mark Starr to the United States Advisory Commission on Educational Exchange, where he remained until 1952. This commission was authorized under Public Act 402 to advise the State Department and the Congress on the operation of information centers and libraries maintained by the United States Government in foreign countries, as well as on the exchange of students and technical experts. In June, 1949, Starr headed the U.S. delegation to the first Adult Education Conference organized by UNESCO at Elsinore, Denmark,(58) where the shades of Marx, Engels and Kautsky rather than the ghost of Hamlet’s father stalked. A month later he was lecturing at a British Labour Party Summer School in Durham, England. (59) That year the New York City Board of Education conferred its annual Adult Student’s Award on Mark Starr as their prize specimen of an adult student who had made good.(60)

As educational director of the ILGWU, Starr helped to instill the Fabian Socialist approach in a labor union whose early history had been marked by episodes of physical violence and the politics of left wing revolt. He advised that “instead of arousing antagonism, as the old-time agitator had to do, now the union leader must be capable of skillful negotiation and of winning over public opinion to support the claims of his organization.” (61) In cooperation with the Federal Council of Churches and other religious bodies, he arranged visits to garment shops and union headquarters for groups of clergymen and presented them with an adroit propaganda pamphlet, What the Church Thinks of Labor. (62)

Through LID connections and the Public Affairs Committee which he chaired in 1949, Starr also developed fruitful contacts between the ILGWU and liberal professors throughout the country—but particularly at the Harvard School of Business Administration. Speaking with a lingering trace of a Welsh burr, Starr delivered the Ingliss lecture at Harvard on “Labor Education.” In August, 1949, the Harvard Business Review carried an article by Willard A. Lewis of the ILGWU legal department,(63) and in 1952 Starr addressed the Harvard Business School Club.

It is interesting to note that in April, 1953, Starr’s department organized an ILGWU panel discussion, where the subject of “Planning and Personal Freedom” was discussed by such “eminent experts” as Dr. George Soule of Columbia University and the New Republic, and Dr. J. Kenneth Galbraith and Dr. Seymour E. Harris of Harvard (64)—the latter pair to become controversial figures seven years later as advisers to the Kennedy Administration. In 1951 Clarence Senior—another future Kennedy adviser—addressed a weekend institute at Hudson View Lodge on the Puerto Rican problem.(65) During such sessions, the learned gentlemen both received and imparted instruction, as preliminary grooming for the future demands of public life.

University and public libraries were generously supplied by Starr with union literature. In one case, a pamphlet giving the union’s view on Trends and Prospects in the Garment Industry was sent to the economics departments of 650 colleges. Labor attaches of United States Embassies abroad, in whose selection union endorsement often played a part, were furnished on request with union-produced pamphlets, phonograph records and propaganda films; and similar “assistance” was given to Occupation Forces in Japan and Europe.(66) All “educational” material distributed by the union was based, directly or indirectly, upon the Fabian Socialist premise formulated by G. D. H. Cole and promoted by Mark Starr as “dean of American labor educators.” Namely, that “education must build new incentives other than those of private gain!”

Under the watchful eye of Starr, research and political activities of the ILGWU were vastly expanded. Both departments were headed and staffed by trusted officials of the LID. Throughout that period of mutual growth, the ILGWU’s research director was Dr. Lazare Teper, who had joined SLID at Johns Hopkins and served for years as a director of the adult LID. In 1951 and after, Dr. Teper lectured at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, evoking no protest whatever from the Socialist Party or its allies. (67)

Political director of the ILGWU under Starr’s command was Gus Tyler, a product of SLID at City College of New York.(68) According to an article in The New York Times, it was Tyler who in 1949 introduced political stewards or “commissars” into union locals.(69) That same year he gave a course on politics at the City College of New York, and in 1950 conducted a course in Political Action at the New School for Social Research. Since 1961, Gus Tyler has been overall educational director of the ILGWU, succeeding Mark Starr but following loyally in his footsteps. Starr’s permanent secretary was the Russian-born Fannia M. Cohn, nominally responsible for arranging “panel discussions.” Veteran member of the LID from the days when it was known as the ISS, she served on the executive committee of the League’s New York chapter.

Through the combined efforts of such “democratic” Socialists, the ample research facilities of the ILGWU were made available in a more or less guarded fashion to the LID. Thus, from 1935, the ILGWU’s research department stood in somewhat the same relation to the LID as the New Fabian Research Bureau did to the British Fabian Society.(70) At Starr’s invitation, the redoubtable Margaret Cole herself often flew from London to address union groups (71) and presumably to synchronize “research” operations with those of the British comrades.

Even today, when the widely diffused “research” activity of the Fabian Socialist movement in America is parceled out among various specialized fringe organizations, as well as university centers for “advanced study,” the research department of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union continues to function as a control center and guiding force in the politico-labor field. Allegedly it is acting for the benefit of its members and those of sister unions, domestic and foreign, which it aids.

During Mark Starr’s prolonged and well-paid term as educational director, the union probably became better known abroad than any other American labor organization. More and more, its New York headquarters were a port of call for labor delegates coming from Germany, Japan, Italy, Korea, and especially from Latin America. (72) Educational assistance and political advice were freely given to budding labor unions, all the way from Ireland to New Zealand, from Ghana to Chile and Brazil. In some instances, the freshly organized unions actually preceded the establishment of industries in which they hoped to set labor standards. Nevertheless, they provided bases for political agitation in backward countries seeking to install Socialist-oriented governments, and in new nations emerging from the Fabian-shattered remnants of once-flourishing colonial empires.

Starr’s services to Fabian Socialism on a world-wide scale appear to date from 1948, when his opportunities as a member of an official government commission dovetailed neatly with his union duties. That was the same year David Dubinsky, freewheeling president of the ILGWU, helped to launch the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU),(73) labor adjunct of the Socialist International. In 1949, Dubinsky addressed the Fabian Society in London while attending the first annual meeting of the Confederation.(74)

Effective organizer of the Free Trade Union Committee in America was Jay Lovestone, international director of the ILGWU. A brilliant, if mercurial character, Lovestone had received his baptism in Socialism as student president of the ISS chapter at the City College of New York. Veering leftward, he became a top functionary of the Communist Party but was expelled for “left deviationism.” Thereafter, he headed a group of American Marxists who supported the exiled Leon Trotsky and his doctrine of permanent revolution. As such, Lovestone was welcomed back into the Fabian Socialist fold and entrusted with far-flung international missions in the name of labor. Together with his assistant and faithful shadow, Irving Brown, he has since visited trouble spots in Europe and the Orient on all-expenses-paid union tours as a labor statesman and traveling inspector general.

If anyone wonders what possible influence such an internahona1 labor body could have on domestic events in the United States, at least one example can be cited. On March 11-13, 1963, the Railwaymen’s Section Committee of the International Transport Workers Federation met in Brussels. According to the International Trade Union News of April 1, 1963, issued fortnightly by the ICFTU:

“The Committee expressed deep concern at the very serious position in which railwaymen of many countries in all parts of the world found themselves, as the result of transport policies directed against the railways or the ruthless rationalization plans of management, or both. These developments were jeopardizing the livelihood of many railwaymen, and in some cases the obstinate attitude of the employers was forcing the railway unions to take militant action ….”(75)

Based on “research” by a Fabian Socialist-controlled international labor group, decisions were reached in Brussels identical to those leading to the renewed call for a nationwide railroad strike in America not many weeks later.

Just as the Transport and General Workers Union in Britain has long been the chief bulwark of the London Fabian Society, so the ILGWU and the closely related Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union have been twin pillars of strength to the LID. From 1935 to 1952, the ILGWU donated 21 million dollars to alleged worthy causes, (76) including political campaigns. From 1951 to 1953 alone, its benefactions exceeded five million dollars (77)—of which the greater part was extracted from the pay envelopes of working people and spent at the discretion of union officials. With financial angels of such stature in the offing, it is little wonder that the Fabian Socialist movement in America prospered and that its influence grew out of all proportion to the modest size of its directive body: the League for Indushia1 Democracy.

At the present fume, the LID enjoys the positron of an elder statesman, having delegated many of its more active functions to kindred organizations colonized and steered by certified Socialist “collaborators,” past and present. Its own list of officers and directors for 1963 discloses a stable handful of old-timers plus a number of youthful newcomers, among them children and grandchildren of original members. For the moment, the League appears to be hardly more than an appendage of the needle trades unions, as it once seemed a mere pensioner of the Rand School. Nevertheless, it is still the senior body of Fabian Socialism in America, from which future dictates on Socialist fashions may be expected to issue. At any desired instant, it can spring to new life again, even though its current status may appear to some to be that of a has-been. Like the Fabian Society of London, the League for Industrial Democracy has always been one of the most underrated Socialist leadership groups in the world.

The fact is that the LID has been preparing ever since the end of World War II for what seems to be virtual retirement. Its star studded anniversary meetings of the nineteen-fifties were a series of premature swan songs. Already every one of those successor organizations had been founded and activated that were to adapt Fabian Socialism to the grandiose dimensions of the space age. These would transport the United States, by fast freeway, toward a shimmering goal which present-day Socialists call “total democracy” but which earlier, undisguised Marxists admitted was world-wide social revolution.

Appropriately, the LID conferred its 1963 award for distinguished service upon the aged Upton Sinclair, last surviving member of the group that issued the original call to the ISS in 1905. With his usual happy faculty for letting the radical cat out of the bag, it was Upton Sinclair who on another occasion revealed the tried-and-true route by which Fabian Socialism must travel to power in the United States. Experience had already shown, said he, that it would be done via the two-party system, rather than through any third party. “So I know,” announced Sinclair, “that it will be the Democratic Party and not the Socialist Party which will bring this great change to America. It will not be called socialism; its opponents will insist that it is communism, while its friends will know that it is industrial democracy.” (78)


1. In 1928 Roger Baldwin, longtime Executive Director of the ACLU, stated flatly: “I believe in revolution–not necessarily the forcible seizure of power in armed conflict, but the process of growth of class movements determined to expropriate the capitalist class and to take control of all social property. Being pacifist–because I believe non-violent means best calculated in the long run to achieve enduring results, I am opposed to revolutionary violence. But I would rather see violent revolution than none at all, though I would not personally support it because I consider other means far better. Even the terrible cost of bloody revolution is a cheaper price to humanity than the continued exploitation and wreck of human life under the settled violence of the present system.” Roger Baldwin, “The Need for Militancy,” The Socialism of Our Times, edited by Harry W. Laidler and Norman Thomas, A Symposium. (New York, The Vanguard Press, Inc., 1929.) For the League for Industrial Democracy (based on a Conference of the League for Industrial Democracy held at Camp Tamiment in June, 1928), p. 77.

2. See Appendix IV.

3. Freedom Through Dissent, 42nd Annual Report, July 1, 1961 to June 30, 1962 (New York, American Civil Liberties Union, 1962), p. 51.

4. Daily Worker (April 20, 1950).

5. Ibid. (December 13, 1961).

6. The Worker (July 16, 1961).

7. Ibid. (December 17, 1961).

8. The Wanderer, St. Paul, Minnesota (December 14, 1961).

9. Freedom Through Dissent, 42nd Annual Report, July 1, 1961 to June 30, 1962 (New York, American Civil Liberties Union, 1962), p. 26.

10. Ibid., p. 22.

11. Ibid., p. 58.

12. Los Angeles Times (February 12, 1962).

13. Associated Press dispatch (March 5, 1962).

14. San Francisco Chronicle (August 19, 1963). This Conference also passed resolutions calling for diplomatic and trade relations with Castro’s Cuba.

15. Freedom Through Dissent, 42nd Annual Report, July 1, 1961 to June 30, 1962 (New York, American Civil Liberties Union, 1962), p. 80.

16. David Edison Bunting, Liberty and Learning (Washington, American Council on Public Affairs, 1942), p. 11.

17. Ibid.

18. Members of the Committee on Academic Freedom were: Edward C. Lindeman. chairman, New York School of Social Works; Ellen Donohue, secretary, Ethical Culture School, New York; John L. Childs, Columbia University; Morris R. Cohen, City College of New York; George S. Counts, Columbia University; Charles A. Elwood, Duke University; Frank P. Graham, University of North Carolina; Sidney Hook, New York University; Horace M. Kallen, New School for Social Research; William H. Kilpatrick, Columbia University; K. N. Llewellyn, Columbia University; A. O. Lovejoy, Johns Hopkins University; Kirtley F. Mather, Harvard University; Alexander Meiklejohn, University of Wisconsin; Felix Morley, Haverford College; Alonzo F. Meyers, New York University; William A. Neilson, Smith College; Reinhold Niebuhr, Union Theological Seminary; James M. O’Neill, Brooklyn College; Frederick L. Redefer, Progressive Education Association; Vida D. Scudder, Wellesley College; L. L. Thurstone, University of Chicago; Mary E. Wooley, Mt. Holyoke College. Bunting, op. cit. (Starred names are cited by Mina Weisenberg as League for Industrial Democracy stalwarts. See Appendix II.)

19. Statement of American Council on Public Affairs, 1942.

20. R. N. Baldwin and C. B. Randall, Civil Liberties and Industrial Conflict (Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1938), p. 3.

21. Ibid.

22. R. N. Baldwin, “Freedom to Teach.” Proceedings of the 1936 Spring Conference of the Eastern States Association of Professional Schools for Teachers (New York, Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1936), p. 324.

23. Roger N. Baldwin, “What Democracy Means to Me.” Scholastic (December 18, 1937), Vol. XXXI, p. 27.

24. Italics had been added, but is now removed.

25. Forty Years of Education (New York, League for Industrial Democracy, 1945), p. 15.

26. Margaret Cole, The Story of Fabian Socialism (London, Heinemann Educational Books, Ltd., 1961), p. 347.

27. Norman Thomas, Democratic Socialism, A New Appraisal (New York, League for Industrial Democracy, 1953), p. 4.

28. Freedom and the Welfare State. A Symposium by Oscar R. Ewing, Herbert H. Lehman, George Meany, Walter P. Reuther and others. Harry W. Laidler, ed. On the Occasion of the 45th Anniversary of the League for Industrial Democracy (New York, League for Industrial Democracy, 1950), p. 34.

29. Ibid., p. 35. Among others sending greetings or serving as sponsors in addition to the LID’s Board of Directors, were: Premier Einar Gerhardsen of Norway, Norman Angell, Stuart Chase, Helen Gahagan Douglas, Senator Paul H. Douglas, David Dubinsky, Quincy Howe, William A. Kilpatrick, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr., Mary K. Simkhovitch, Channing H. Tobias and Jerry Voorhis. Ibid., p. 37.

30. Ibid., p. 35.

31. Joseph Lash, together with Monroe Sweetland, later editor of the Oregon Democrat, and George Edwards, a future member of the bench in Detroit, were named by Mina Weisenberg in The League for Industrial Democracy: Fifty Years of Democratic Education (New York, League for Industrial Democracy, 1955), as leaders of the SLID during that period.

32. Congressional Record, House of Representatives (October 16, 1962), pp. 22124-22125.

33. Now the United Automobile, Aircraft and Agricultural Implement Workers Union of America, with a membership said to exceed 1,000,000.

34. In Left Communism, an Infantile Disease, V. I. Lenin advised his followers: “It is necessary to agree to any sacrifice, to resort to all sorts of devices, maneuvers and illegal methods, to evasion and subterfuge, in order to penetrate the trade unions, to remain in them and to carry out Communist work in them at all costs.”

35. As recently as 1963, James Farmer was a member of the board of the adult League for Industrial Democracy.

36. Although a National Student Association report of September, 1953, stated that the Students’ League for Industrial Democracy was defunct, an official League brochure published in 1955, The League for Industrial Democracy At Mid-Century, reported that in June, 1954 the Students’ League held a conference on “The Patterns of Social Reform in North America” at the International Center of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in New York. There a Canadian Member of Parliament addressed them from the same rostrum as C. Wright Mills, sociology professor from Columbia; Daniel Bell, labor editor of Fortune magazine; Felix Gross, sociologist from Brooklyn College and mark Starr, labor educator. (Speakers cited are listed by Mina Weisenberg as “collaborators” of the adult League.)

37. See Investigation of Un-American Propaganda Activities in the U. S., Special Committee on Un-American Activities, 78th Congress, Second Session. (Appendix, Part IX, Communist Front Organizations.) (Washington, U. S. Government Printing Office, 1944); also, Cumulative Index to Publications, 1938-1954 (January, 1955); Supplement to Cumulative Index, 1955-1960 (June, 1961).

38. See statement at the League’s 40th Anniversary dinner by the Hon. Newbold Morris, President, New York City Council. Forty Years of Education (New York, League for Industrial Democracy, 1945), pp. 39-40. In this speech Morris said: “Norman Thomas is a Socialist. Yet I don’t believe that there are very many principles which would remove Norman Thomas from a liberal in any party, and I suppose he chose the hard way. . . . He might have climbed the ladder by enrolling in either one of the major parties and going from Alderman to Sheriff, to Borough President, to Congressman, to United States Senator and so on all the way up. . . . There are a lot of others around here who have chosen the hard way and I admire them for it.”

39. Thomas, op. cit., p. 5.

40. Ibid., p. 8.

41. Ibid., p. 8.

42. Ibid., pp. 28-29.

43. Hugh Gaitskell, M. P., Socialism and Nationalisation, Fabian Tract No. 300 (July, 1956). In the foreword, Gaitskell states he wrote the essay in 1953 (the same year that Democratic Socialism appeared) but did not publish it until 1956.

44. Thomas, op. cit., p. 10.

45. Ibid., p. 9.

46. Ibid., p. 34. The Natural Law, implicit in the United States Constitution, recognizes the inherent right of human creatures to exist. Associations, being manmade, have no inherent rights and only exist permissively.

47. Ibid., p. 9.

48. Later The National Council of Churches, and affiliated today with the World Council of Churches.

49. Hearst Headline Service dispatch by David Sentner. Published September 1, 1963. Children of Light and Children of Darkness, published in 1945, is a collection of the West Foundation lectures delivered by Dr Reinhold Niebuhr at Stanford University in 1944. It is an argument for the “mixed economy” and “the open society,” regarded by Socialists as a transitional stage to Socialism. Only ten years earlier, in Reflexions on the End of an Era, (New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1934). Dr. Niebuhr had said that the sickness of capitalism was “organic and constitutional”–rooted in “the very nature of capitalism . . . in the private ownership of the productive process.” He predicted that “the end of capitalism will be bloody rather than peaceful,” and considered Marxism “an essentially correct theory and analysis of the economic realities of modern society.” (See Reinhold Niebuhr: His Religious, Social and Political Thought, edited by Charles W. Kagley and Robert W. Bretall (New York, The Macmillan Co., 1956), p. 137.)

50. See Appendix II. See also annual lists of League for Industrial Democracy’s officers and board of directors.

51. Freedom and the Welfare State (New York, League for Industrial Democracy, 1950), pp. 7ff. British Fabian speakers on that occasion included Corley Smith, Economic and Social Counselor, United Kingdom Delegation to the United Nations; Margaret Herbison, M. P., Under Secretary for Scotland; Toni Sender, Representative of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions to the United Nations, G. D. H. and Margaret Cole and Morgan Phillips of the Socialist International sent greetings.

52. Mark Starr, “Corruption in a Profit Economy,” A Moral Awakening in America, A Symposium (New York, League for Industrial Democracy, 1952), p. 22.

53. Report of Education Department, ILGWU (June 1, 1948-May 31, 1950), p. 15. During that period, Mark Starr also helped to revise a new edition of Labor in America, a senior high school text, ibid., p. 15.

54. “Adult education” was a field in which Margaret Cole and her husband were active for years. It became her chief public function in 1951-1960, when she was chairman of the Further Education Committee of the London County Council, Fabian News (January, 1963).

55. Report of the American Fund for Public Service, popularly called the Garland Fund, 1925-28, states, “For the three-year period covered by this report, the enterprises to which we have given outright the largest amounts of money were: Vanguard Press, $139,453; Brookwood Labor College, $74,227; Rand School, research department, $16,116; League for Industrial Democracy, $10,500.” Cf. testimony of Walter S. Steele before the House of Representatives, Special Committee to Investigate Communist Activities in the United States, Report of Committee (December, 1930), p. 226.

Steele’s testimony continues, as follows: “The Vanguard Series, issued by The Vanguard Press, was organized and financed by the American Fund for Public Service, Inc. and distributed by the Rand Bookstore. (The Vanguard Press was set up by the communist-socialist controlled American Fund for Public Service, Inc. It publishes communist-socialist literature for distribution. Its publications are also distributed by the Rand Press.”

Authors listed in the Steele testimony include: Karl Marx, V. Lenin, Peter Kropotkin, Franz Oppenheimer, Henry George, Benjamin R. Tucker, Robert Blatchford (British Independent Labour Party), Clarence L. Swartz, James Peter Warbasse, Jesse W. Hughan, Alexander Berkman, Charles H. Wesley, Coleman Hayes-Wood, A. S. Sachs, Scott Nearing, Robert W. Dunn, Upton Sinclair.

56. See Appendix II. Also annual lists of LID officers and directors.

57. Report of Education Department, ILGWU (June 1948-May 1950), p. 28.

58. Ibid., p. 30.

59. Ibid., p. 29.

60. Ibid., p. 30.

61. Ibid., p. 25.

62. Ibid., p. 15.

63. Ibid., p. 31.

64. Report of Education Department, ILGWU (June 1951-May 1953), p. 14.

65. Ibid., p. 26.

66. Report of Education Department, ILGWU (June 1948-May 1950), p. 18.

67. Report of Education Department, ILGWU (June 1951-May 1953), p. 27. (See also report, The Ultra Right and the Military Industrial Complex, published by the Socialist Party-Social Democratic Federation and submitted with a covering letter by Norman Thomas to the Special Preparedness Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Armed Services. Hearings before the Subcommittee, Part 6, 1962, pp. 3016 ff. In this document, Socialists protest against permitting conservative speakers to address the Armed Services.)

68. See Appendix II.

69. Report of Education Department, ILGWU (June 1948-May 1950), p. 30.

70. Loc. cit., pp. 58-64. (See account of functions of New Fabian Research Bureau in Part I, Fabian Freeway.)

71. Report of Education Department, ILGWU (June 1948-May 1950), p. 10. Numerous other visits by Margaret Cole and members of the London Fabian Executive are unrecorded in union publications.

72. Ibid., p. 15.

73. Ibid., p. 26.

74. Ibid., p. 32.

75. Italics had been added, but is now removed.

76. Report of Education Department, ILGWU, (June, 1951-May, 1953), p. 27. (In this connection, Herald Tribune article of January,1952, is cited.)

77. Mark Starr, “Garment Workers: Welfare Unionism,” Current History, July, 1954. Reprint by ILGWU, pages unnumbered.

78. Forty Years of Education (New York, League for Industrial Democracy, 1945), p. 16.

Chapter 15 << | >> Chapter 17

Chapter 15- …The More It Stays The Same

Chapter 15 of the book Fabian Freeway.


In the future as in the past, the continuing leadership of the Socialist movement in the United States resided in America’s Fabian Society, (1) the polite but persistent Intercollegiate Socialist Society, which changed its name but not its nature in 1921. Discarding the Socialist title, that by now had become a liability, it called itself the League for Industrial Democracy—the name under which it survives today.

This alias implied no break with the destructive philosophy and goals of international Socialism. It was rather a device for pursuing them more discreetly, at a temporarily reduced speed. Few outsiders connected the term Industrial Democracy with those archetypes of Fabian Socialism, England’s Sidney and Beatrice Webb, who had used it as the title for one of their earliest propaganda books. The slogan adopted by the LID, “Production for use and not for profit,” originated with Belfort Bax, another vintage British Socialist. It was a handy formula for expressing Marxist aims in non-Marxist language.

Although most of its members and friends now described themselves publicly as liberals, basically the American society remained the same. As ever, its self-appointed function was to produce the intellectual leaders and to formulate the plans for achieving an eventual Socialist State in America. Like its British model, the LID proposed to operate from the top down and meet the working masses halfway. Voting power and financial support would come from labor, which was to be organized as far as possible into industry-wide, Socialist-led unions.

As the Lusk Committee only vaguely surmised, (2) British Socialists, not Russian nor German, had set the pattern for gradual social revolution to be followed in America and other English-speaking countries. The development of an elite, and research for planning and control purposes, were its primary tasks. Penetration and permeation of existing institutions, indirect rather than direct action, were its recommended procedures.

Owing to the greater expanse and complexity of the United States as compared to England, and to the wide variety of opinions due to the varied national origins of its people, special emphasis had to be placed on the formation of opinion-shaping and policy-directing groups at every level—particularly in the fields of education, political action, economics and foreign relations. While as yet such groups existed only in embryo, and Socialist programs were in public disrepute, sooner or later the opportunity for a breakthrough would come. The way of the turtle was slow but sure.

Superficially, some changes in LID operations were made in deference to the times. Adults were now frankly admitted to membership in an organization which they had always dominated. Student chapters, disrupted by the war, had almost disappeared; but until 1928 no direct effort was made to revive them in the name of the Students’ League for Industrial Democracy. For the moment, it seemed more prudent to operate through the new Intercollegiate Liberal League, formed in April, 1921, at a Harvard conference attended by 250 student delegates from assorted colleges.(3)

Keynote speakers at this conference included such trusty troupers of the old Intercollegiate Socialist Society as Walter Lippmann, Henry Mussey, Charlotte Perkins Gilman and the Reverend John Haynes Holmes (4)—all billed as liberals rather than Socialists. The objectives of the organization, as stated in the prospectus, were even more carefully understated than those of the former ISS. They were: The cultivation of the open mind; the development of an informed student opinion on social, industrial, political and international questions. (5) Due to the reassuring tone of the prospectus and the psychological appeal of the word liberal, three presidents of leading Eastern colleges actually consented to address the organizing conference. (6)

In his speech on that occasion, the Reverend Holmes invited students to “identify themselves with the labor world, and there to martyr themselves by preaching the gospel of free souls and love as the rule of life.” Vaguely, he predicted a revolution and added, “If you want to be on the side of fundamental right, you have got to be on the side of labor.” A militant advocate of pacificism during the war, Reverend Holmes had frequently been under surveillance by Federal agents. Intelligence sources reported that his speeches were used as propaganda material by the German Army in its efforts to break down the morale of American troops.

Subsequent meetings of the Intercollegiate Liberal League dealt with what British Fabians of the period often referred to as “practical problems of the day.” Speakers were provided through the cooperation of the New Republic, whose literary editor, Robert Morss Lovett, was also president of the LID. Both English and American Fabian Socialists responded to the call. In January, 1923, the Fabian News of London announced:

“W. A. Robson has gone to America for about six months, as a member of a small European mission which will lecture at the leading universities under the auspices of the Intercollegiate Liberal Union [sic].”

Evidently a touch of Fabian elegance was needed, for the Liberal League’s Socialist slip was already showing. In 1922, that outspoken American Socialist, Upton Sinclair, making a tour of the universities, had delivered several lectures sponsored by the Intercollegiate Liberal League(7)—and very nearly succeeded in exposing its Socialist origin. Concerning such incidents, a committee of the American Association of University Professors reported tolerantly: “The Intercollegiate Liberal League suffered from misinterpretation, and somewhat at the hands of ‘heresy hunters.’” (8) In 1922, it merged with the Student Forum and its membership numbered a select 850 on eight college campuses.

Like the young people whom it was schooling in duplicity, the parent LID cultivated a liberal look and an air of candid innocence. This pose was rendered more credible by the fact that certain troublesome “cooperators” had voluntarily withdrawn from the ISS. Gone but not forgotten were firebrands like Ella Reeve Bloor, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, William Z. Foster and Robert Minor, who had been active in the violent IWW-led strikes of other years and who later became top functionaries in the Communist Party.

No suspicion of Communist ties could be permitted to cast its shadow upon the League for Industrial Democracy, on which the future of the Socialist movement in America depended. Yet individual members and even ranking officers, acting independently or through subsidiary organizations, continued to display a puzzling solicitude for the well-being of illicit Communists. To an outsider it sometimes looked as if the chief concern of open-minded League members in the nineteen-twenties was to procure the survival of the illegal Communist Party, then calling itself the Workers’ Party, with whose methods they were officially in disagreement.

In this connection, it may be pointed out that the role of the renovated LID was from the start a defensive one. After 1917, both public officials and the American public at large regarded Communism very much as Anarchism had been viewed in the eighteen-eighties and nineties. Since virtually all members of Communist parties here and abroad were former Socialists, and since a good many avowed Socialists (9) had now one foot in the Communist camp, the average American could hardly be expected to make much distinction between them. A respectable front was urgently needed.

Like the Bellamy clubs of a previous era, the LID was called upon, not only to make Socialism acceptable under other names, but to preserve the whole social revolutionary movement in this country from possible extinction. “Left can speak to left”—a principle later voiced by the British Fabian, Ernest Bevin, at Potsdam—was its undeclared but pragmatic rule of action.

There is no doubt that radicals of every kind were highly unpopular in the United States after World War I—and no doubt there were good reasons. Information had been received linking a number of left wing publications in this country with the Communist International’s propaganda headquarters in Berlin. As a result, the Department of Justice launched an all-out drive to immobilize centers of seditious propaganda in America. A series of raids was conducted in 1919-20 by order of Attorney General Mitchell Palmer, which led four Harvard Law School professors headed by Felix Frankfurter to file a protest with the Justice Department. (10) Socialist-liberal writers—enjoying themselves hugely, as Walter Lippmann recalls—joined forces to taunt and harass the earnest if unsophisticated officers of the law.

When steps were also taken in 1919-20 to close the Rand School of Social Science on grounds that it harbored known Bolsheviks, (11) there was some fear that even the Intercollegiate Socialist Society itself might soon be exposed to summary action. Not only August Claessens, but a whole flock of ISS valued “cooperators” were listed as instructors and lecturers at the Rand School in June, 1919, (12) when the New York State Legislature appointed a committee headed by Senator Clayton R. Lusk to investigate radical activities. The Senator’s methods were of a classic simplicity. He issued a search warrant and called for State Troopers to escort the investigators who descended suddenly on the Rand School, impounding records and files.

On the basis of evidence so obtained, the Committee took steps to close the school by court injunction and throw it into receivership. With the help of Samuel Untermeyer, a prominent New York attorney whose brother, Louis, taught Modem Poetry at the Rand School, the injunction was lifted and the school’s records were returned. Thereupon the so-called Lusk Laws were passed,(13) requiring all private schools in New York State to be licensed. The purpose was to close the Rand School on grounds that it did not meet the necessary qualifications.

Here the hidden source of Socialist power in New York hinted at by August Claessens, suddenly revealed itself. The attorney for the Rand School, Morris Hillquit, was backed by the mass indignation and voting power of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers and other Socialist-led trade unions. Prudently the Lusk Laws were vetoed in 1920 by that happy warrior, Governor Alfred Emanuel Smith, in what has been described as the most brilliant veto message of his career. The episode is significant because it marked the first step in an unholy alliance between the New York State Democratic organization and the Socialist-led needle trades unions: an alliance that was to put Franklin D. Roosevelt into the Governor’s mansion and eventually into the White House, and bring “democratic Socialists” into the highest councils of Government.

Governor Smith’s veto of the Lusk Laws also offered a striking example of the uses of Fabian Socialist permeation in America—the technique recommended so warmly by Beatrice Webb, explained so clearly by Margaret Cole (14) and employed so successfully by British Fabians operating inside the Liberal Party in England. It is a technique of inducing non-Socialists to do the work and the will of Socialists. No one supposes for a moment that Governor Al Smith was himself a Socialist; nor does anyone imagine he drafted that very brilliant veto message personally. Besides being an astute politician of the Tammany Hall stripe, Smith was a devout Catholic layman. To reach him required not only permeation at first hand, but permeation at second hand as well.

In this instance, it may be noted that one of Governor Smith’s counselors on matters involving “social justice” was Father (later Monsignor) John Augustin Ryan of the National Catholic Welfare Council, (15) who in 1915 founded the Department of Social Sciences at the Catholic University of America. In an objective analysis entitled The Economic Thought of John A. Ryan, Dr. Patrick Gearty has revealed that much of Father Ryan’s thinking on social and economic matters was derived from John Atkinson Hobson, the British Fabian Socialist philosopher and avowed rationalist.

In 1919, Father Ryan had already unveiled the draft of a postwar “reconstruction” plan, in an address delivered in West Virginia before the conservative Knights of Columbus. The Ryan plan has since been known by the somewhat misleading title of “The Bishops’ Program of Social Reconstruction,” because it was printed over the signatures of four Bishops who formed the National Catholic Welfare Council’s Executive Committee. It was reprinted in 1931, just prior to the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt as President.

An illuminating fact about the plan was that it took special note of “the social reconstruction program of the British Labor Party”—a program written by Sidney Webb and published as Labour and the New Social Order. Father Ryan specifically cited the “four pillars” of the Webb opus. Concerning them, he stated, “This program may properly be described as one of immediate radical reforms, leading to complete socialism …. Evidently this outcome cannot be approved by Catholics.”(16) True to Catholic orthodoxy, “complete Socialism” must be rejected; but not the bulk of the ill-begotten Fabian “reform” program. Illogically, Father Ryan praised the means while rejecting the end. Although his views certainly cannot be regarded as typical of the Catholic leaders of his day, he left disciples behind him and founded a school of thought which has since come to be accepted unquestioningly by many otherwise devout Catholic teachers and students of the social sciences.

More concretely, Father Ryan defended in speeches and articles the right of the five expelled Socialist Assemblymen to be seated in the New York State Legislature. In 1922, his name appeared on the letterhead of the Labor Defense Council, a joint Socialist-Communist construct, set up to obtain funds for the legal defense of illegal Communists arrested at Bridgman, Michigan, whose attorney of record was Frank P. Walsh.

Although controversial Catholic clerics of conservative economic views have occasionally been silenced, somehow John Augustin Ryan contrived to do very much as he pleased. At a later date he was frankly known as the padre of the New Deal; and for services rendered was honored in 1939 with a birthday dinner attended by more than six hundred persons. The guests included Supreme Court Justices Frankfurter, Douglas and Black, Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins, Secretary of the Treasury Henry A. Morgenthau, Jr., plus a liberal assortment of left wing trade union leaders, progressive educators and New Deal congressmen.

There is no question that the moral influence of Father Ryan, coupled with considerations of practical politics, led Governor Smith in 1920 to intervene on behalf of the Rand School. In other respects, also, Smith anticipated that tolerance for Socialist programs and personalities which characterized his successor, Franklin D. Roosevelt. During Smith’s campaign for the Presidency in 1928, most of his eager supporters scarcely noticed it when he announced “over the radio” that he favored “public ownership of public power.”

The Lusk Laws were briefly revived in 1921 under Governor Nathan Miller, but the Rand School continued to operate happily without a license. It even collaborated in opening a summer school at Camp Tamiment vaguely patterned after Fabian Summer Schools in Britain. There New Republic regulars George Soule and Stuart Chase, Mary Austin, Evans Clark and other LID pundits (17) tutored the humbler Rand School rank-and-file in Socialist politics, economics and general culture.

With time and patience, the school settled its legal difficulties and has survived to the present day as a teaching, research, publishing and propaganda center of “peaceful” Marxism known as the Tamiment Institute. It has lived to enjoy 40th, 45th, 50th and 55th anniversary dinners, complete with souvenir booklets celebrating old times and old-timers. During its lifetime, it has been regularly favored with visits by leading British Fabians: from Bertrand Russell, John Strachey, M.P. and Norman Angell to Margaret Bondfield, M.P., Margaret Cole and Toni Sender, (18) representative of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions at the United Nations. While no change in the Rand School’s outlook has ever been recorded, so far has Socialism been rehabilitated, that the present Taminent Institute now wears an aura of respectability in some academic circles.

In the same year that the Lusk Laws were revived and every known radical organization in the country seemed to be under fire, the LID chose Robert Morss Lovett, professor of English at the University of Chicago, as its president, a post he was to hold for seventeen years. He was a man of keen intelligence, quiet charm and unfailing courtesy, with a thorough knowledge of nineteenth-century English prose sometimes called the literature of protest. To paraphrase Henry Adams, Lovett had been educated for the nineteenth century and found himself obliged to live in the twentieth, a situation to which he was never quite reconciled.

Born on Christmas Day to thrifty, pious New England parents, he came of pilgrim stock but never referred to it. He had graduated summa cum laude from Harvard in the days when Bellamy-type Socialism, adorned with touches of John Ruskin and William Morris, was attracting young Cambridge intellectuals; and he made connections there that lasted until his death at the age of eighty-four. During the eighteen-nineties, Lovett went to Chicago to assist University President John Rainey Harper in bringing culture and scholarship to the booming Midwest. Soon he became a sort of campus legend by virtue of his wit, audacity, kindly disposition and practically unshakable aplomb. An inveterate diner-out and something of a bon vivant, he was punctual in keeping appointments and punctilious in meeting his commitments, academic or social. Because of a certain engaging simplicity of manner, all his life people were eager to protect him and insisted he was somehow being taken advantage of—though the fact was that he invariably did as he chose, without excuses or explanations.

Through his wife, a close friend of Jane Addams and Florence Kelley, Lovett was drawn into the circle of settlement workers, social reformers, pacifists, American Socialists and visiting British Fabians that revolved around Hull House. Due to his own pacifist activities during World War I, he became a scandal to patriots and a hero to Socialists. The event that transformed the rather aloof university professor into a public figure was a mammoth peace meeting in Chicago which ended in a riot.

The circumstances under which Lovett happened to preside at that gathering shed some light on his subsequent career. At the last minute, the original chairman of the meeting failed to appear, and other possible substitutes evaporated. Nobody of prominence could be found willing to take the responsibility for an event almost sure to provoke a public scandal. Obligingly and with a certain amused contempt for the absentees, Lovett agreed to act as chairman, thereby inaugurating a long and tangled career as front man for a legion of left wing organizations and committees. At moments when no one else of established reputation cared to expose himself, Lovett was always available. After the heat was off, others were pleased to take over.

In 1919, Lovett was invited to New York to become editor of The Dial, a literary monthly attempting to endow radicalism with a protective facade of culture and to provide an outlet for the talents of young college-trained Socialists then beginning to throng to the great city. Among his youthful staff assistants on The Dial were Lewis Mumford, (19) who has since become something of an authority on civic architecture and city planning, and Vera Brittain, who later married Professor George Catlin, a prime architect of Atlantic Union. In a year or two, Lovett was made literary editor of the New Republic, a position he occupied six months of the year while retaining his chair at the University of Chicago. He was also named to the Pulitzer prize fiction awards committee. These vantage posts not only provided liberal cover for a confirmed Fabian Socialist, but enabled him to promote the new literature of protest, with its emphasis on “debunking” American institutions, that became popular in the nineteen-twenties and thirties.

Through S. K. Ratcliffe, the New Republic’s long time London representative, and through that magazine’s opposite number in Britain, the New Statesman, it was easy enough to keep regularly in touch with the fountainhead of Fabian Socialism. So many eminent British Fabian authors and educators were busily traveling back and forth across the Atlantic, to share in the wealth of a country whose crassness they deplored, that they passed each other in transit on the high seas. Scarcely a one missed being entertained at the New Republic’s weekly staff luncheons, and Lovett and his associates were helpful in booking many on the lucrative university lecture circuit. As he confided to friends, Lovett longed to visit England; but was blacklisted by the British Foreign Office because he had aided some Hindu revolutionaries, only incidentally financed by German agents, during the war. Thus contacts between the Fabian Society of London and the titular head of its American affiliate necessarily remained indirect. For the time being, perhaps it was better so.


Throughout the nineteen-twenties—while the United States was enjoying a giddy whirl of industrial growth and paper profits, and the outwitting of Prohibition agents became a major national pastime—there was always that same small, close-knit core of studious men and women bent on remaking the country according to a more or less veiled Marxist formula. Bitterly disappointed that world war had not produced a world-wide Socialist commonwealth, they still found much to console them in the international picture. The predominance of the Social Democratic Party in Germany; the existence of a somewhat crude but frankly all-Socialist State in Soviet Russia; and the emergence of the Fabian Socialist-controlled Labour Party as the second strongest political party in Britain: these developments gave them hope of being able some day to bring the unwilling United States to heel.

True, the Socialist movement in America still seemed a comparatively small affair, foreign to the great majority of average Americans. Its appeal was still confined chiefly to social workers, rebel college professors and students, a handful of ambitious lawyers and wealthy ladies, and a few militant Socialist-led unions that were far from representing a majority in the ranks of American labor. The postwar scene, however, was enlivened by the addition of many college-trained young people, cut adrift from family discipline and religious moorings, who found companionship, a faith and ultimately well paid careers within the reorganized Socialist movement. The prestige of British Fabian authors in New York publishing and book review circles helped to open doors for their liberal brethren in the United States. Superficially, the American version of the British Fabian Society almost looked, as it had in England, to be a species of logrolling literary society.

Political power, however, was the prize for which it secretly yearned, insignificant as its efforts in that direction might appear at the moment to be. Socialist intellectuals already aspired to influence the military and foreign policy of the United States and continued to plan quietly for the creation of a Socialist State in America within a world federation of Socialist States. Their postwar aspirations had been foreshadowed in a “Wartime Program” issued early in 1917 by the American Union Against Militarism: a program that in a small way echoed the British Fabian Socialist plan contained in Leonard Woolf’s International Government. The “Wartime Program” stated:

“With America’s entry into the war we must redouble our efforts to maintain democratic liberties, to destroy militarism, and to build towards world federation. Therefore, our immediate program is:

“To oppose all legislation tending to fasten upon the United States in wartime any permanent military policy based on compulsory military training and service.

“To organize legal advice and aid for all men conscientiously opposed to participation in war.

“To demand publication by the Government of all agreements or understandings with other nations.

“To demand a clear and definite statement of the terms on which the United States will make peace.

“To develop the ideal of internationalism in the minds of the American people to the end that this nation may stand firm for world federation at the end of the soar.

To fight for the complete maintenance in wartime of the constitutional right of free speech, free press, peaceable assembly and freedom from unlawful search and seizure. With this end in view the Union has recently established a Civil Liberties Bureau ….” (20)

Founders of the organization issuing that statement were described as “a group of well-known liberals. (21) Closer inspection, however, reveals that virtually every member of its founders’ committee was a long-standing “cooperator” of the Intercollegiate Socialist Society, later the League for Industrial Democracy. (22)

When it became evident after the war that the Union’s dream of world federation must be postponed, the LID remained the directive and policy-making body behind a gradual Socialist movement soliciting public support on a variety of pretexts. Its aims were promoted through a handful of closely related organizations, invariably staffed at the executive level by directors and officers of the League. Chief among them were the American Civil Liberties Union ( ACLU ), the Federated Press, and the American Fund for Public Service, also known as the Garland Fund, a self-exhausting trust which helped to forestall deficits in the other organizations and even contributed charitably to the subsistence of masked Communist enterprises.

Through such organizations, the Socialist movement maintained discreet contacts with illegal Communist groups in the nineteen-twenties. William Z. Foster, identified then and later as a leader of the Communist Party, was both a director of the Federated Press and a trustee and indirect beneficiary of the Garland Fund. As late as 1938, four acknowledged Communists served on the national committee of the ACLU. (23)

While the LID stood aloof, taking no responsibility for the actions of its subsidiaries, their unity was visibly confirmed by the fact that Robert Morss Lovett held top posts in all four organizations. He was not only president of the LID, but a director of the A(:LU and the Federated Press, which served a number of labor papers and left wing publications, both Socialist and Communist. Lovett also sat on the board of trustees of the Garland Fund, and he chaired a host of ephemeral committees. In fact, he appeared in so many capacities at once that he was sometimes compared to the character in W. S. Gilbert’s ballad who claimed to be the cook, captain and mate of the Nancy brig plus a number of other things.

Obviously, Lovett could not really have directed all the organizations and committees over which he presided in the twenties and after. The administrative and editorial work of the League was handled by Harry Laidler, aided after 1922 by the former clergyman Norman Thomas in the sphere of Socialist politics and by Paul Blanshard as LID organizer. Paul Blanshard later directed the Federated Press. (24) More recently, he has been identified with an organization known as “Protestants and Other Americans United for the Separation of Church and State,” dedicated to expunging all references to God from public schools and public life in America. He anticipated G. D. II. Cole, the president of the London Fabian Society, who smilingly advocated “the abolition of God”!

Though Lovett’s actual duties—aside from his work as an editor, teacher and public speaker—always remained somewhat mysterious, he appears to have acted mainly as a liaison between top-level Socialists and Communists as well as academic and moneyed groups. During the Socialist movement’s period of temporary regression, he was in his glory. His contacts were numerous, and his personal amiability combined with discretion, made him acceptable to all. “Let one hand wash the other” and “recoil, the better to spring forward” (Reculer pour mieux sauter) were the private maxims that guided him on his variegated rounds. It was hard to believe that so delightful and considerate a dinner guest, as Felix Frankfurter has described in his autobiography, and so informed and sober a classroom figure could be so dangerous a radical.

Yet an old friend, who never shared his political views, still recalls how the normally serene Robert Morss Lovett once remarked with sudden intensity: “I hate the United States! I would be willing to see the whole world blow up, if it would destroy the United States!” His startled companion dismissed the incident as a momentary aberration —and refrained from mentioning to Lovett that his words were much the same as those of Philip Nolan in The Man Without a Country.

Most conspicuous of the postwar organizations manned by League for Industrial Democracy members was the American Civil Liberties Union. Like the LID, the ACLU has survived to the present day, acquiring a patina of respectability with the passage of time and the decline of old-fashioned patriotism, for which both bodies cherish an ill-concealed contempt.

Formed in January, 1920, the ACLU was a direct outgrowth of the wartime Civil Liberties Bureau, a branch of the American Union Against Militarism. The Bureau assumed “independent” life in 1917 when a young social worker from St. Louis named Roger Baldwin moved to New York to direct the work of its national office. (25) During the war, it furnished advice and legal aid to conscientious objectors, thus gaining the support of some quite reputable Quakers. When it was reorganized on a permanent basis after the war as the ACLU, Roger Baldwin, who had just finished a prison term for draft-dodging, returned as its executive officer. For all practical purposes, he ran the organization for approximately forty years.

While the ACLU was still in the process of formation, Baldwin wrote in an advisory letter: “Do steer away from making it look like a Socialist enterprise. We want also to look patriots in everything we dot-We want to get a good lot of flags, talk a good deal about the Constitution and what our forefathers wanted to make of the country, and to show that we are really the folks that really stand for the spirit of our institutions.” (26) Such deceptive practice was in the classic Fabian tradition—symbolized by the wolf in sheep’s clothing that decorates the Shavian stained-glass window at a Fabian meetinghouse in England. Promptly adopted by Baldwin’s associates, this tactic has succeeded in deluding not a few well-intentioned Americans.

The immediate function of the American Civil Liberties Union in 1920 was to combat the postwar flurry of arrests, deportations and court actions against Communists and other seditionists, many of whom were foreign born. Baldwin had previously described such individuals “as representing labor and radical movements for human welfare,” and contended they were being “insidiously attacked by privileged business interests working under the cloak of patriotism.” (27) Twin weapons of the quasi-forensic ACLU were legal aid and a species of propaganda designed to arouse public sympathy for the “victims” of the law—an expedient normally frowned upon by the American bar.

If it was Roger Baldwin who defined the propaganda line, another founder of the ACLU,(28) Harvard Law Professor Felix Frankfurter, provided the legalistic approach. In his protest of 1920 to the Department of Justice; in his argument as amicus curiae before a federal court in Boston, where he assured the right of habeas corpus to criminal aliens awaiting deportation; (29) and earlier, in two reports submitted as counsel for President Wilson’s Mediation Commission, Frankfurter initiated the mischievous practice of invoking the Constitution for the benefit of its avowed enemies.

Perhaps more than any other American, Frankfurter helped to establish the fiction that it is somehow unconstitutional and un-American for the United States to take measures to defend itself against individuals or groups pledged to destroy it. His reports on the Preparedness Day bombings and the Bisbee deportations won him a sharp rebuke from that forthright American, former President Theodore Roosevelt, who wrote in a personal letter to Frankfurter:

“I have just received your report on the Bisbee deportations …. Your report is as thoroughly misleading a document as could be written on the subject . .

“Here again you are engaged in excusing men precisely like the Bolsheviki in Russia, who are murderers and encouragers of murder, who are traitors to their allies, to democracy and to civilization . . . and whose acts are nevertheless apologized for on grounds, my dear Mr. Frankfurter, substantially like those which you allege. In times of danger nothing is more common and more dangerous to the Republic than for men to avoid condemning the criminals who are really public enemies by making their entire assault on the shortcomings of the good citizens who have been the victims or opponents of the criminals …. lt is not the kind of thing I care to see well-meaning men do in this country.”(30)

One of the more sensational events in which early leaders of the American Civil Liberties Union took a hand was the case of the “Michigan Syndicalists.” The circumstances leading up to it were peculiar, to say the least. In August, 1922, a Hungarian agent of the Communist International, one Joseph Pogany, alias Lang, alias John Pepper, arrived illegally in the United States. Having assisted in setting up the short-lived Bela Kun Government in Hungary, he was presumed to be something of a specialist in the bloodier forms of revolutionary behavior. Pogany brought with him detailed instructions for organizing both legal and illegal branches of the new Communist Party USA. Those instructions were to be divulged by him at a secret Communist convention, held at a camp in the woods near Bridgman, Michigan, which was duly raided by the authorities.

As a result, seventeen Communists—including William Z. Foster, then editor of the Labor Herald–were arrested and arraigned under Michigan’s anti-syndicalist laws. At his trial in Bridgman, Foster, who later openly headed the Communist Party, testified under oath that he was not a Communist, thereby escaping conviction. Many others attending the conclave had prudently slipped away the night before the raid, leaving a mass of records and documents behind. In sifting this material, it was discovered that several of the delegates were connected with the Rand School of Social Science. Some, like Rose Pastor Stokes and Max Lerner, have since been listed as “cooperators” of the LID. (31)

Max Lerner, a bright young intellectual who had been a student leader of the Intercollegiate Socialist Society at Washington University in St. Louis, was among the seventeen persons arrested in or near Bridgman. Like Foster, he claimed to have attended that secret convention in an editorial capacity. What his other motives may have been are not recorded, since from that time forward Lerner appeared to operate strictly within the framework of the Fabian Socialist movement. For years he continued to write articles for The Nation, The Call and The New Leader, and to lecture on economics at the Rand School, the New School for Social Research and more conventional institutions of learning. He was a lifelong admirer of the self-proclaimed Marxist, Harold Laski, who found Lerner’s political outlook close to his own.(32)

When Laski was quoted in 1945 by the Newark Advertiser as condoning bloody revolution, he sued for libel in a London court—and lost the case. It was Max Lerner (together with Harvard Professor Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr.) who took the initiative in collecting an American “fund” for Laski,(33) to help defray the latter’s court costs of some twelve thousand pounds. More recently, we find an unreconstructed Max Lerner writing a widely circulated column for American newspapers. In an article sent from Switzerland in August, 1963, he deftly exploited the malodorous Stephen Ward pandering case (forced into prominence by the Fabian Harold Wilson, M.P.) as a means of promoting sympathy for Socialism.(34)

The pained outcry that the Bridgman case evoked in the twenties from Socialist-liberal writers and publicists was symptomatic of a curious phenomenon never explained by medical science: Wound a Communist, and a Socialist bleeds! A circular letter of April G, 1923, soliciting funds for the legal defense of the arrested Communists, described them plaintively as a “group of men and women met together peacefully to consider the business of their party organization.” This letter appeared on the stationery of the Labor Defense Council, whose national committee included the names of well-known Communists. It was signed by eight equally well-known members of the LID and/or ACLU. (35) At about the same time, Robert Morss Lovett persuaded the wealthy wife of a University of Chicago professor, to post securities valued at $25,000 as bond for the Bridgman defendants. The securities were subsequently forfeited when several of the accused jumped bail and fled to Moscow.

A more enduring cause celebre, in which both Socialist- and Communist-sponsored “defense” organizations battled jointly to reverse the course of justice, was the Sacco-Vanzetti case. Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were Italian immigrants of admitted Anarchist views (36) who were arrested in 1920 for the robbery and murder of a paymaster and paymaster’s guard in South Braintree, Massachusetts. Found guilty and sentenced to die, they were finally executed in 1927. Since several million words have already been written about the case in the form of legal briefs, editorials, articles and books, it would be superfluous to review the matter in detail. Some $300,000 was contributed for the legal defense of those “two obscure immigrants about whom nobody cared”—as Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. has described them sentimentally in The Age of Roosevelt.

Left wing leaders had apparently promised Sacco and Vanzetti they would be saved at any cost, and a mighty effort was made to that end. All the available propaganda stops were pulled out. The whole spectrum of leftist literary lights, from Liberal to Socialist to Communist, was brought into play. Academic Socialism’s foremost figures were enlisted to dignify the campaign, and student organizations were rounded up. Among the legal scholars who helped to prepare documents on the case was Harvard Law Professor Francis B. Sayre, son-in-law of Woodrow Wilson and a relative of the Reverend John Nevin Sayre. (37) The Brandeis family became so emotionally involved in the cause of the two allegedly persecuted immigrants that Justice Brandeis felt obliged to disqualify himself when the question of reviewing the case reached the Supreme Court.

For several years the Harvard campus was split down the middle on the issue of Sacco and Vanzetti’s guilt or innocence. Professors Felix Frankfurter and Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr. rallied the innocence-mongers. They were supported by Roscoe Pound, Dean of the Law School and a disciple of Brandeis in the field of sociological law. On the other hand, University President A. Lawrence Lowell urged moderation and suggested that some credence be placed in the good faith and common sense of Massachusetts’ judges and law enforcement officers. So vehemently did Felix Frankfurter denounce his academic superior that it was suggested the little law professor resign. “Why should I resign?” asked Frankfurter, adding insolently, “Let Lowell resign!” When it was all over, the long-suffering President Lowell wrote in mild exasperation to Dean Pound that he thought “one Frankfurter to the Pound should be enough.”

Not only The Nation and New Republic, but at least two respected New York dailies, insisted to the end that Sacco and Vanzetti were the blameless victims of a Red scare or public witch hunt. So impassioned and so confusing was the public debate that some Americans today are still under the impression that Sacco and Vanzetti were somehow “framed” or “railroaded” to their death. Only recently a final confirmation of their guilt has come to light. It was contained in a quiet announcement by Francis Russell, a man who has spent the better part of his life seeking to demonstrate Sacco and Vanzetti’s innocence.

In the June, 1962, issue of American Heritage Russell told how he finally traced the long-missing bullets found in the body of the paymaster’s guard, Berardelli, to a police captain, now deceased. Two ballistic experts, using modern techniques, analyzed the bullets and testified they had unquestionably been fired from the .32 caliber pistol which Sacco was carrying at the time of his arrest. Thus Francis Russell was forced to conclude that Sacco wielded the murder weapon and that Vanzetti was at least an accessory.

Oddly enough, a similar conclusion based on less objective evidence was made public by Upton Sinclair in 1953. In a memoir published serially in the Rand School’s quarterly Bulletin of International Socialist Studies, (38) Sinclair quoted Fred A. Moore, an attorney for Sacco and Vanzetti, as saying he believed Sacco to be guilty of the shooting and Vanzetti to have guilty knowledge of it. Sinclair further relates how Robert Minor, a Communist Party official, telephoned him long distance in Boston and begged him not to repeat the attorney’s opinion. “You will ruin the movement! It will be treason!” cried Minor.

From that indiscreet telephone call, it is inferred that Sacco and Vanzetti may have robbed and killed to fill the Party’s underground treasury, as Stalin and his Bolshevik comrades are known to have done in Russian Georgia during 1910-11. At any rate, the missing payroll funds, amounting to nearly $16,000, were never recovered. A third man, reported by witnesses to have assisted at the South Braintree crime, vanished coincidentally with the cash. This, however, is not the “legacy” referred to by Professor Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr., who in 1948 wrote the introduction to an emotion-packed volume perpetuating the martyr legend of “the poor fish-peddler and the good shoemaker.” (39) As of 1962, Schlesinger’s son, Arthur, Jr., was a member of the national committee of the American Civil Liberties Union, which had handled the appeals and coordinated the propaganda in the historic Sacco and Vanzetti case.(40)


1. Forty Years of Education (New York, League for Industrial Democracy, 1945), p. 56. A telegram to the League on its fortieth anniversary from Mandel V. Halushka, a Chicago schoolteacher, read, “Birthday greetings to America’s Fabian Society!”

2. Only two direct references to the Fabian Society occur in the Lusk Report, and the first is misleading:

“In England during the ‘80’s the Fabian Society was formed which remains an influential group of intellectual Socialists, but without direct influence on the working man or Parliament.” Revolutionary Radicalism, Vol. I, p. 53.

“We have already called attention to the Fabian Society as an interesting group of intellectual Socialists who engage in a very brilliant campaign of propaganda.” Ibid., p. 145.

Obviously, the Lusk Committee underestimated both the current and potential influence of the Society.

3. Depression, Recovery and Higher Education. A Report by (a) Committee of the American Association of University Professors. Prepared by Malcolm M. Willey, University of Minnesota, (New York, McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1937), p. 317.

4. Ibid.

5. Italics originally added, now removed.

6. Ibid.

7. At other colleges and universities Upton Sinclair’s lectures were sponsored by local units of the Cosmopolitan Club–an organization similar in character and inspiration to the Intercollegiate Liberal League.

8. Ibid.

9. Algernon Lee, author of The Essentials of Marxism, said: “A large proportion in the early nineteen-twenties went Communist, and of these only a few have found there way back.” Quoted in August Claessens’ autobiography, Didn’t We Have Fun? (New York, Rand School Press, 1953), p. 20.

10. Helen Shirley Thomas, Felix Frankfurter: Scholar on the Bench (Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1960), p. 19. Distributed in England by the Oxford University Press.

11. Who’s Who in New York for 1918 lists A. A. Heller as a director of the Rand School. Treasurer and general manager of the International Oxygen Company, which had benefitted from wartime contracts, the Russian-born Heller served as commercial attache of the unofficial “Soviet Embassy,” whose chief, Ludwig Martens, left the United States under pressure.

12. In 1919, instructors and lecturers at Rand School included: Max Eastman, Charles Beard, Elmer Rice, Oswald Garrison Villard, John Haynes Holmes, Harry Laidler, Lajpait Rai, Joseph Scholossberg, August Claessens, Harry Dana, Henrietta Epstein, E. A. Goldenweisser, James O’Neal, Eugene Wood, A. Philip Randolph, I. A. Hourwich, Henry Newman, Harvey P. Robinson and Joseph Slavit. Bulletin of the Rand school, 1918-19. See Appendix II.

13. The year that the Lusk Laws were passed and vetoed by Smith, 1920, the School heard Louis Lochner on Journalism, Gregory Zilboorg on Literature, Leland Olds on American Social History, Frank Tannenbaum on Modern European History, and James P. Warbasse on the Cooperative Movement, Bulletin of the Rand School, 1919-20. See Appendix II.

14. Margaret Cole, The Story of Fabian Socialism (London, Heinemann Educational Books, Ltd., 1961), pp. 84 ff.

15. Renamed in 1923 The National Catholic Welfare Conference.

16. Italics originally added, now removed.

17. The year after the Lusk Laws were repassed in 1921 marked the opening of Camp Tamiment. Evans Clark taught Political Science, William Soskin, Modern Theatre, Mary Austin, American Literature, Otto Beyer, Industrial Problems. Robert Ferrari lectured on Crime, Taraknath Das on the Far East. The roster of lecturers also included Clement Wood, Arthur W. Calhoun, George Soule, Joseph Jablonower, Norman Thomas, Solon DeLeon, Jessie W. Hughan and Stuart Chase. Bulletin of the Rand School, 1920-21. See Appendix II.

18. Toni Sender’s salary was partially paid by the AFL-CIO, an item regularly reported in its annual budget.

19. See Appendix II.

20. David Edison Bunting, Liberty and Learning. With an Introduction by Professor George S. Counts, President, American Federation of Teachers. (Washington, American Council on Public Affairs, 1942), p. 2.

21. Ibid., p. 1.

22. This committee was composed of Lillian D. Wald, of the Henry Street Settlement; Paul U. Kellogg, editor of Survey Graphic; the Reverend John Haynes Holmes; Rabbi Stephen S. Wise; Florence Kelley, president of the Intercollegiate Socialist Society and head of the Consumers League of America; George W. Kirchwey; Crystal Eastman Benedict; L. Hollingsworth Wood, a prominent Quaker attorney; Louis P. Lochner, afterwards of The New York Times Bureau in Berlin; Alice Lewisohn: Max Eastman; Allen Benson and Elizabeth G. Evans. Ibid. See Appendix II.

23. Ibid., p. 10. See chart of political affiliations of national committee, American Civil Liberties Union.

24. Paul Blanshard was a contributor to the official 1928 Campaign Handbook of the Socialist Party, entitled The Intelligent Voter’s Guide and published by the Socialist National Campaign Committee. Other contributors were: W. E. Woodward, Norman Thomas, Freda Kirchwey, McAllister Coleman, James O’Neal, Harry Elmer Barnes, James H. Maurer, Lewis Gannett, Victor L. Berger, Harry W. Laidler and Louis Waldman. All were officials of the League for Industrial Democracy. See Appendix II.

25. Bunting, op. cit., p. 2.

26. Revolutionary Radicalism, Vol. I, p. 1087.

27. Bunting, op. cit., p. 3.

28. Thomas, op. cit., p. 21.

29. Ibid., p. 19.

30. Roosevelt to Frankfurter, December 19, 1917, The Letters of Theodore Roosevelt, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, VIII, 1262.

31. See Appendix II.

32. Kingsley Martin, Harold Laski: A Biographical Memoir (New York, The Viking Press, Inc., 1953), p. 86. “Among the younger men, including, for instance, Max Lerner, he [Laski] found intellectuals whose political outlook was close to his own.”

33. Ibid., p. 168.

34. San Francisco Examiner (August 11, 1963). “We underestimate,” writes Lerner, “how deeply most people need a rebel-victim symbol. There is a lot of free-flowing aggression in all of us, and one of the functions of a cause celebre is to give us a chance to channel some of it. . . . This brings us back to Ward as the rebel against society, and the victim of its power-groups.”

35. Signers of this letter were: Freda Kirchwey, editor of The Nation; Norman Thomas, leader of the Socialist Party; The Reverend John Nevin Sayre; Mary Heaton Vorse, contributor to The Nation and the friend and inspirer of Sinclair Lewis; Roger Baldwin, director of American Civil Liberties Union; The Reverend Percy Stickney Grant: The Reverend John Haynes Holmes; Paxton Hibben, director and solicitor of funds for the “Russian Red Cross” in the United States. All are listed by Mina Weisenberg as “cooperators” of the League for Industrial Democracy. See Appendix II.

36. In this connection, it is interesting to note that in June, 1919, the first issue of Freedom–a paper published by the Ferrer group of Anarchists at Stelton, New Jersey–stated editorially: “It may well be asked, ‘Why another paper?’ when the broadly libertarian and revolutionary movement is so ably represented by Socialist publications like the Revolutionary Age, Liberator, Rebel Worker, Workers’ World and many others, and the advanced liberal movement by The Dial, Nation, World Tomorrow and to a lesser degree, the New Republic and Survey. These publications are doing excellent work in their several ways, and with much of that work we find ourselves in hearty agreement.” (Author’s note: One of the founders of the Ferrer School, Leonard D. Abbott, was also a founder of the Intercollegiate Socialist Society. He was associate editor of Freedom. Members of that short-lived paper’s editorial staff were teachers at the Rand School.)

37. The Reverend John Nevin Sayre was a founder of the ACLU and signed the appeal for funds in the Bridgman case.

38. Upton Sinclair, “The Fishpeddler and the Shoemaker,” Bulletin of International Social Studies (Summer, 1953).

39. Cf. Louis G. Joughlin and Edmund M. Morgan, The Legacy of Sacco and Vanzetti. With an introduction by Arthur M. Schlesinger (New York, Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1948).

40. Freedom Through Dissent, 42nd Annual Report, July 1, 1961 to June 30, 1962, American Civil Liberties Union, New York, 1962. (List of officers, directors, national committee members, etc. Page not numbered, opposite p. 1.)

Chapter 14 << | >> Chapter 16

Chapter 14-The More It Changes…

Chapter 14 of the book Fabian Freeway.


Less than six weeks after the formation of the Intercollegiate Socialist Society, the Rand School of Social Science was born. It was named for Elizabeth Rand, who died in July, 1905, leaving a $200,000 trust fund to “carry on and further the work to which I have devoted the later years of my life.” An ardent Abolitionist in girlhood, Elizabeth Rand became an equally ardent Socialist in her old age. Wealthy and openhanded, she had been a donor to many obscure Socialist publications and schemes in America.

Trustees of the fund created under Elizabeth Rand’s will were her daughter, Carrie Rand Herron, and her son-in-law, George D. Herron, a deposed Congregationalist minister. Dr. Herron had been the first chairman of the Socialist Party of America, elected at its founders’ convention in 1902; and he was one of two persons chosen to represent organized Socialist groups in the United States at the International Socialist Congress of 1902 in Brussels. Previously, he had been Professor of Applied Christianity at Grinnell College in Iowa, a unique chair endowed by the same Elizabeth Rand.

In 1901, Dr. Herron had obtained a divorce from his wife, (1) the mother of four children, and made Carrie Rand his bride in a poetic but unconventional ceremony recognized as binding under the common law of the State of New York. One Saturday evening in May, with the scent of flowers filling the room) George Herron and Carrie Rand announced to a small circle of Socialist comrades and to the world at large the accomplished fact of their “spiritual union”—the long-standing “marriage of our souls.” Next, the host of the evening, Dr. Charles Brodie Patterson, editor of The Arena and Mind, made a brief address. He was followed by the Reverend William Thurston Brown of Plymouth Church, Rochester, whose Annunciation Service was described by one listener as a “poem in prose.” Each of the fourteen guests present, among them the romantic poet, Richard Le Gallienne, was invited to make a brief verbal offering to the consummation of this love union. William Mailly, national secretary of the young Social Democratic Party (soon to be merged into the Socialist Party), declared that the marriage meant, above all, a more complete consecration to Socialism! (2)

Uplifting as the event may have seemed to sentimental Socialists of the period, Dr. Herron’s colleagues and neighbors back in Iowa found it both bizarre and shocking. Just ten days later the council of the First Congregational Church in Grinnell recommended that Dr. Herron be dropped from church membership rolls, deposed from the Christian ministry and removed from the teaching staff at Grinnell College, a church-sponsored institution. (3) While the Socialist press attempted to depict Dr. Herron as a martyr to his political beliefs, the circumstances of his divorce from a loyal wife, and his remarriage without benefit of clergy, were the actual reasons for his ouster. (4) Despite the great increase in divorce statistics since the turn of the century, grass roots reaction to such apparently carefree personal behavior on the part of religious or civic leaders remains much the same today as yesterday.

Taking a cue from Sidney and Beatrice Webb, with whom they had fraternized at the Brussels Congress, the Herrons decided to use the trust fund left by Elizabeth Rand to found a school designed as “an intellectual center for the Socialist movement in the United States.” (5) The sum available was very much larger than the Hutchinson Trust employed by Sidney Webb to launch the London School of Economics. Moreover, unlike the London School, the Rand School of Social Science was not connected with any accredited university and thus did not feel constrained to dissemble its Socialist aims. Its functions more nearly approximated those of the Workers’ Educational Association in Britain, which offered courses in Socialism to working men and women and trained future Trade Union and Labour Party officials.

After a short while, the Herrons very considerately retired to spend the rest of their lives in Italy, where the scandal provoked by their common-law marriage could less readily be adduced by the general press to discredit the Socialist cause in America. Possibly anticipating their departure, the Herrons-made Morris Hillquit a co-trustee of the Rand School Fund. Hillquit, born Mischa Hilkowics, was a canny labor lawyer in New York City who became a chronic aspirant to political office on the Socialist Party ticket. An inspirer and founder of the ISS, Morris Hillquit also helped to found the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union, which acquired wealth and political power under his leadership and that of Sidney Hillman. Rand School of Social Science always maintained close ties with Amalgamated. To this day, Amalgamated officials still sit on the Board of the Rand School (now known as the Tamiment Institute) and serve as officers and directors of the League for Industrial Democracy.

The original Board of Directors named in the school’s certificate of incorporation included Algernon Lee, Job Harriman, Benjamin Hanford, William Mailly, Leonard D. Abbott and Henry Slobodin. (6) All had formally declared themselves to be “in full accord with the principles and tactics of the modern Socialist movement in America.” (7) Job Harriman, who was born on an Indiana farm and practiced law in Los Angeles, was to be at various times the Socialist Party’s candidate for mayor and governor of New York, and vice president. Algernon Lee and Leonard D. Abbott, whose propaganda efforts dated from the era of the Bellamy Nationalist clubs, were among the founders of the ISS.

In addition, a three-man advisory committee for the school was appointed. (8) Members were Dr. P. A. Levine, later of the Rockefeller Institute, the first but not the last recorded Socialist to penetrate the great private foundation; Herman Schlueter, (9) Social Democratic editor of the New Yorker Volkszeitung; and Professor Charles A. Beard of Columbia, also listed as a “faculty sponsor”(10) of the ISS. Dr. Beard, a widely respected historian, eventually renounced the Marxian approach to history after a lifetime as a Socialist. By that time, however, he had already produced a number of influential books, written jointly with his wife, Mary, that portrayed the Founding Fathers as self-interested spokesmen for a propertied clique and deprecated the American Constitution as a class-inspired document.

In 1907 the Rand School gave desk space to the ISS in a brownstone house at 122 East 19th Street, in New York, site of its present headquarters. (11) Successive secretaries of the Rand School, William J. Ghent and Algernon Lee, served as titular secretaries of the ISS, and the school’s trusted assistant secretary, Rose Laddon Hanna, (12) handled ISS correspondence—their salaries being paid from Rand School funds.

Plainly, the relationship between the two organizations was a family one, of shared ideas, facilities and personnel. Few observers realized that the seemingly mild and modest ISS, which for some time appeared to be almost a pensioner of the Rand School, was in reality the superior, policy-making body.

The school was the ISS link to revolutionary labor groups and Socialist Party politics, in which members of the ISS were prominent without involving the parent body. Every facet of American Socialism’s high-strung, contentious political history during the first two decades of the twentieth century was reflected in the Rand School, where the atmosphere was often more emotional than intellectual. Its cooperative cafeteria advertised, “Every bite a nibble at the foundations of capitalism!”

Members of the ISS—including such noted Marxist ideologues as John Spargo and labor economist I. A. Hourwich, along with an ever increasing number of professors from Columbia University—taught at the Rand School. (13) Over the years, the school offered lectures on a broad range of cultural subjects, to which a Socialist flavor was added. There were “courses” in psychology, literature, music, foreign languages and the arts, for which no formal academic credits were given. Algernon Lee, as Educational Director of the Rand School, stated flatly that the teaching work of the school fell into two parts:

1) That which offers general public opportunities to study Socialism and related subjects.

2) That which gives Socialists such systematic instruction and training as may render them more efficient workers in the Socialist Party, the Trade Unions, the Cooperatives.(14)

Rand School “students,” largely immigrants and children of immigrants from Czarist Russia, played a lively part in the strikes and demonstrations of the garment workers in New York. They supported the dynamite-laden strikes of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), organized among miners and railroad men in the Far West and among the textile workers of Lawrence, Massachusetts, under the leadership of Big Bill Haywood. The Rand School in its early years sponsored Red Sunday Schools for children in various parts of the country and helped to establish local “labor schools” in a number of industrial cities. In the IWW-led copper strike of 1911-12, it set up a temporary training school for strike organizers in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Certainly the Rand School was far from being an ivory tower and in no way resembled the traditionally peaceful groves of academe.

With the coming of World War I the Socialist movement in the United States found itself sharply divided on the issue of American participation. A species of radical pacifism, more or less discreetly encouraged by some Fabian visitors from England and by agencies of the Imperial German Government, gained the upper hand within the Socialist Party. In May, 1915, just after the sinking of the Lusitania, the Party amended its national constitution to include the following provision:

“Any member of the Socialist Party elected to office who shall in any way vote to appropriate moneys for military and naval purposes, or war, shall be expelled from the Party.” (15)

Through the Socialist Propaganda League, Scott Nearing and Eugene V. Debs, perennial Socialist Party candidate for the Presidency, of the United States, attempted to spread their gospel of non-cooperation to American labor in wartime. In 1918 Debs preached pacifism to three million members of the American Federation of Labor and received a ten-year prison sentence, later commuted. In February, 1919, the Federal Government tried Scott Nearing and the Rand School for publishing, writing and circulating a pamphlet, The Great Madness, during the war. Though Nearing was acquitted, the Rand School was fined $3,000. Yet in 1955 Mina Weisenberg frankly described Debs as having been a “cooperator” and frequent lecturer of the ISS, and she listed the wife of Scott Nearing as a director of the LID in 1923.(16)

Many other members of the ISS were identified, first or last, with the pacifist agitation and anti-patriotic intrigues of the World War I era. Still the ISS itself—like the Fabian Society of London—denied any responsibility for the actions of its individual members and refrained from taking a public stand on the controversial issue of the war. A telegram of January 27, 1919, from Harry W. Laidler, then secretary of the ISS with offices at 70 Fifth Avenue, to the chairman of a U.S. Senate Investigating Committee, asserted disingenuously:

“In the list of alleged pacifists and radicals submitted by the Military Intelligence Bureau to the Senate Committee, the names of several college professors are included, and after their names the words Intercollegiate Socialist Society. In most instances, the only connection that these men have had with the society has been as endorsers of the society’s stated object to promote an intelligent interest in socialism among college men and women. The society is an educational, not a political propagandist organization, having been organized to throw light on the worldwide movement towards industrial democracy known as socialism, in the belief that no intelligent collegian can afford to be ignorant of the movement, and that no one can intelligently support or intelligently oppose socialism unless he understands its ideals and aims.” (17)

Not long afterwards, by order of President Wilson, himself a former college professor, the Military Intelligence Bureau was instructed to destroy its card files on subversives during World War I—a loss described as irreparable by Thomas M. Johnson, author of Our Secret War, an account of United States intelligence operations in the First World War.


With the outbreak of revolution in Russia, which Socialists everywhere believed to be the forerunner of world revolution, the excitement in American Socialist circles was intensified. To comprehend the attitude of international Socialism towards the Bolshevik seizure of power, it should be recalled that Vladimir Lenin had long been the leader of a minority faction in the Russian Social Democratic Party, a branch of the prewar Socialist International. With the same topsy-turvy use of language practiced today by Soviet spokesmen, it called itself the majority (or Bolsheviki).

Prior to 1917, Lenin had attended congresses of the Socialist International in person or by proxy, and his militant tactics were privately condoned by a good many Social Democrats in other countries as being justified by internal conditions peculiar to Czarist Russia. (18) He was one of the Socialist family, the wayward son who made good. The entire clan was impressed, even though it might sometimes be annoyed at his high-handed methods.

In the coup of October, 1917, Lenin was joined by Leon Trotsky, previously a member of the majority faction inaccurately dubbed the Mensheviki (or minority) in the Russian Social Democratic Party. (19) During the premature revolution of 1905 in Russia, Trotsky had been closely associated with a Russian-born Socialist and international mystery man named Israel Helfant, who took his doctorate in finance at a Swiss university and thereafter acted as a fiscal agent for various international Socialist enterprises. Better known by his cover name of “Parvus,” Helfant made a personal fortune in the Balkans and Turkey during the years just preceding and after the outbreak of World War I. Returning to Germany in 1915, he founded a Socialist newspaper, Die Glocke, supporting the Social Democratic majority in the German party. He was frequently consulted on Russian affairs by the Imperial German Government. (20)

It is an interesting sidelight on the shadowy origins of the Bolshevik Revolution to know that “Parvus”-Helfant was the man who advised the German Government to pass Lenin through Germany en route from Switzerland to Russia in 1917. (21) He was also responsible for bringing Lenin and Trotsky together, as joint leaders of the revolution. All this might seem remote from events in the United States, if it were not for the fact that Trotsky had spent several years in New York just prior to the October revolution. His former associates there were delighted when he suddenly emerged as commandant of the Red Army and co-leader of the Bolshevik coup in Russia. Theoretical differences were overlooked in the general rejoicing.

Personally, Trotsky enjoyed a considerable following among Russian American labor groups in New York who formed the bulwark of the Rand School and the American Socialist Party. In 1915 the latter Party had advocated use of the general strike as a political weapon. (22) Its members and sympathizers were naturally interested when British Socialists threatened to call a general strike in support of Trotsky’s Red Army, stalled at Warsaw in August, 1920, on what had appeared to be the start of a triumphal sweep through Europe.

In its heyday the Socialist Party of America had some 150,000 dues-paying members.(23) It more nearly resembled Britain’s Independent Labour Party, led by the maverick Fabian, Keir Hardie (for whom the Intercollegiate Socialist Society staged a big Carnegie Hall rally), than the present British Labour Party which came to prominence after World War I.

By 1920 the American Socialist Party, an affiliate of the Socialist International, had succeeded in electing more than one thousand of its members to political office, published hundreds of newspapers, secured passage of a considerable body of legislation, won the support of one-third of the American Federation of Labor membership, and was instrumental in organizing the Industrial Workers of the World. (24) While it offered no serious electoral challenge to the two major political parties, its influence was far from negligible.

Because of the Socialist Party’s international ties and the strong sympathy so many of its members, themselves of Russian origin, displayed for the Bolshevik Revolution, there was some fear that Socialist elements would take advantage of the industrial unrest predicted after World War I to organize politically inspired strikes and disorders in America. Even college boys, too young to vote, were being infected with the idea of radical social change.

In the Intercollegiate Socialist for April-May, 1919, (25) a bimonthly edited by Harry W. Laidler under the imprint of the ISS, the Reverend John Haynes Holmes, pastor of the Community Church in New York, urged that college youth be prepared to play a part in the stirring events anticipated for the postwar era. “The times call for a fearless and comprehensive statement of the Socialist message,” Reverend Holmes declared. “Furthermore, this should be especially directed at the minds of our young men and women everywhere, for the Great War has prepared these minds for the sowing of the seed of radical social change.”

The same issue of the same publication contained an article entitled “Two Years of the Russian Revolution” by Alexander Trachtenberg, member of the executive committee of the ISS and director of Labor Research at the Rand School of Social Science. On page 32, Trachtenberg wrote, heatedly:

“Menaced by foreign military forces, the work of social and economic regeneration is now endangered. The Russian Revolution is the heritage of the world. It must not be defeated by foreign militarism. It must be permitted to develop unhampered. It must live, so that Russia may be truly free, and through its freedom blaze the way for industrial democracy throughout the world.”(28)

In August, 1920, the Fabian Socialist-dominated Labour Party of Great Britain set an example to the American brethren of revolutionary action aimed at ending the threat of Allied military intervention in Soviet Russia. At a joint conference held August 9 at the House of Commons by the Parliamentary Committee of The Trades Union Congress, the National Executive of the Labour Party and Labour Party Members of Parliament, it was resolved:

“That this joint Conference . . . feels certain that war is being engineered between the Allied Powers and Soviet Russia on the issue of Poland, and declares that such a war would be an intolerable crime against humanity. It therefore warns the Government that the whole industrial power of the organized workers will be used to defeat this war.”

Executive committees of affiliated organizations throughout Britain were summoned to proceed to London for a national conference. Meanwhile, they were advised to instruct their members to be ready to “down tools” if and when the conference gave the word. On August 13 the assembled national conference pledged itself “to resist any and every form of military intervention against the Soviet Government of Russia.” It demanded:

“1) an absolute guarantee that the armed forces of Great Britain shall not be used in support of Poland, Baron Wrangel, or any other military and naval effort against the Soviet Government;

“2) the withdrawal of all British naval forces operating directly or indirectly as a blockading influence against Russia;

“3) the recognition of the Russian Soviet Government and the establishment of unrestricted trading and commercial relationship between Great Britain and Russia.” (27)

Although the British Labour Party at its annual conference in Scarborough two months before had voted by a large majority against affiliation with the Communist Third International, still Labour Party leaders were prepared to take extreme measures, far beyond the bounds of parliamentary propriety, to defend and preserve the Socialist Fatherland. The meaning was spelled out in a speech by J. H. Thomas, described as a relatively moderate British labor leader of the day, who said:

“Desperate as are our measures, dangerous as are our methods, we believe the situation is so desperate that only desperate and dangerous methods can provide a remedy. These resolutions do not mean a mere strike. Do not make any mistake. They mean a challenge to the whole Constitution of the country.” (28)

Whether that widely publicized threat mirrored the actual sentiments of British labor, then about 70 per cent organized in trade unions; (29) or whether it was merely a well-engineered bluff based on Fabian Socialist control of Labour Party and trade union machinery, (30) will never be known. If it was a bluff, the reigning Liberal Party Government of Great Britain did not venture to call it—and any prospect of Allied military action against Bolshevik Russia speedily collapsed. Lloyd George could not take the risk of even a short-lived general strike in an election year. No wonder Sidney and Beatrice Webb, whose long and patient maneuvers had made all this possible, were received with royal honors during their visit to Moscow in 1932.

On August 14, 1920, the London Daily Herald, organ of the British Labour Party edited by Colonel House’s old friend, George Lansbury, reported: “Labour’s National Conference yesterday made the dramatic decision to vest in the Council of Action full authority to call at its discretion an immediate national strike to enforce the demands of the Conference. After the main resolution was passed, the delegates stood silent a full minute, then broke into the strains of the ‘Red Flag.'” It may or may not be noteworthy that the Herald used the expression, “All Power to the Council [the Soviet]!”

This historic meeting was attended by at least one American observer, Professor Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Dana, formerly of Columbia University and then a lecturer at the New School for Social Research. His glowing account of it appeared on November 14, 1920, in The Call, then the leading New York Socialist newspaper, under the heading, “Three Revolutionary Trades Union Congresses.” In 1920 Professor Dana, grandnephew and namesake of the revered New England poet, was vice president of the Intercollegiate Socialist Society.

Signs of intimacy between British and American Socialists, and the apparent readiness of both to place the survival of Soviet Russia above any domestic concerns, led the New York State Legislature to expel five Socialist Assemblymen-elect in the spring of 1920. They were disqualified on the strength of their pledges to the Socialist Party, as well as their own personal acts and statements. Legislators complained that the Socialist Party was not properly a political party at all, because it admitted minors and non-citizens to its councils, and because its constitution prohibited members from voting funds for military purposes.

Unlike some State legislatures, which are narrowly political, the New York body once maintained an extremely high level of brains and legal talent. Its 1920 report on Socialist activities—sometimes referred to as the Lusk Report, and mockingly disparaged by Socialist-minded publicists and historians (31)—is a classic document that could serve even now as a model for Congressional investigators. Published under the title, Revolutionary Radicalism, it sounded the first sober warning of the danger that international Socialism portended for the future of America.

Among the ousted Socialist Assemblymen was that fun-loving old German-American revolutionary, August Claessens, who in addition to his duties as a Party agitator also taught at the Rand School of Social Science. Some of his best friends had joined the Communist Party, which split away from the Socialist Party in 1919 and for a time was the object of Department of Justice raids indignantly protested by radicals of every hue. In a speech delivered early in 1919 at the Brownsville Labor Lyceum and reported in The Call, Claessens was quoted as saying:

“There is little real difference between the Socialist Party and the Communists. We want to get to the same place but we are traveling different roads. The reason they are being raided and we unmolested is not because we are considered more conservative, but because we are more powerful than those little groups.” (32)

The power to which Claessens referred was the voting strength of the big needle trade unions in New York City, which from their inception had voted en bloc for the Socialist Party. The Socialist role of those unions is reflected in the dramatic history of the Jewish Daily Forward, described by one of its own editors as “a powerful instrument of Socialist persuasion.”(33)

At its national convention of May, 1920, the Socialist Party showed itself to be of two minds. One group, led by prominent instructors in the Rand School, insisted the Party should not mislead the public, but instead should boldly proclaim its revolutionary principles and aims. Another group, led by Morris Hillquit, favored Fabian tactics of delay and compromise, and advised modifying the Party’s constitution to meet the technical objections raised by the New York State Assembly. Shrewd and worldly-wise as Sidney Webb himself, Hillquit judged that the United States was not yet Ape for revolution, and that there was nothing to be gained by forcing the issue.

More clearly than many of his foreign-born associates, Hillquit recognized the essentially conservative temper of the American people. He foresaw the widespread resentment, especially among returning servicemen, that any direct attack on American institutions would provoke. Moreover, as a lawyer he perceived the legal obstacles to undertaking a frankly anti-constitutional program.

Since the purpose of the Socialist convention was, after all, to draft an election program, Hillquit argued that the Party could not win independent voters with a blanket statement of destructive aims. It must appeal to discontented elements throughout the country on a purely parliamentary basis. Had not Lenin only recently recommended parliamentary action for British labor and warned against imitating too closely “the first forms of the revolution in Russia”? (34)

Denounced by old comrades as an opportunist, Hillquit was stung into making a public profession of his own radical faith. “We have never at any time changed our creed,” he protested. “Never, certainly, to make ourselves acceptable to any capitalist crowd …. As international Socialists, we are revolutionary, and let it be clearly understood we are out to destroy the entire capitalist system. The capitalist system . . . must come to an end!” (35)

While that rousing pronouncement hardly justifies the label of right wing Socialist which is sometimes applied to Hillquit, in practice his counsel of caution won the day. The Party’s constitution was amended, and the five expelled Assemblymen were duly permitted to take their seats in the New York State Legislature. In the Presidential election of 1920 the Socialist Party chalked up nearly a million votes for its candidate, Eugene V. Debs, who directed his campaign from a prison cell; but it never again conducted a major national campaign. By 1921 its membership had dropped to a mere 13,500: only a few thousand more than when the Party was founded. Whatever the future of Socialism in America, as a Columbia University historian remarked, obviously it no longer lay with the Socialist Party. (36)


1. In 1892, Dr. Herron dedicated his book, A Plea for the Gospel, “to my wife, Mary Everhard Herron, who has been to me a living conscience.”

2. Leonard D. Abbott, “A Socialist Wedding,” International Socialist Review (July, 1901).

3. The Congregationalist (June 15, 1901).

4. Ibid. Concerning Dr. Herron, the Reverend E. M. Vittum, pastor of the Congregationalist Church in Grinnell, wrote: “Any statement that he has been persecuted by his church on account of heresy or socialism is an absolute falsehood. For some time past there have been increasing suspicions of his moral character, culminating when a divorce, with custody of the children, was granted to Mrs. Herron.”

5. Chicago Socialist (October 30, 1905).

6. Morris Hillquit, Loose Leaves from a Busy Life (New York, The Macmillan Co., 1934), pp. 65-66.

7. Rand School Bulletin, 1911.

8. Hillquit, op. cit., pp. 65-66.

9. Max Beer, Fifty Years of International Socialism (London, Allen and Unwin, 1935).

10. See Appendix II.

11. Forty Years of Education (New York, League for Industrial Democracy, 1945), p. 20.

12. Ibid. After retiring form the school, Mrs. Hanna resided for some years at the Grand Hotel in Moscow, where as representative of the Open Road Travel Bureau she arranged tours of the Socialist Fatherland, chiefly for Russian-American labor groups, and helped bring millions in tourist dollars to the Soviet Union.

13. Rand School Bulletin, 1911. A partial list of Rand School teachers for that year named Professors Franklin H. Giddings, D. S. Muzzey, Charles A. Beard, Columbia; Professor William Noyes; Professor I. A. Hourwich; Professors Vida D. Scudder and Emily Balch Green, Wellesley; Charlotte Perkins Stetson Gilman; William N. Leiserson; George R. Kirkpatrick; Algernon Lee; Robert W. Bruere, afterwards president of the Morris Plan Bank; John Spargo; Morris Hillquit; W. J. Ghent; Benjamin C. Gruenberg; Florence Kelley.

14. American Labor Yearbook, 1919-20, p. 207.

15. Revolutionary Radicalism, Its History, Purpose and Tactics. Report of the Joint Legislative committee Investigating Seditious Activities, filed April 24, 1920, in the Senate of the State of New York. (Albany, J. P. Lyon Company, 1920), Vol. II, pp. 1777 ff.

16. See Appendix II.

17. Senate Document No. 62, 66th Congress, Vol. III, p. 2857.

18. Max Beer, op. cit., pp. 144-159.

19. Ibid.

20. Ibid. After 1919, Max Beer was employed by Helfant as editor of Die Glocke.

21. Ibid.

22. Revolutionary Radicalism, Vol. II, pp. 1777 ff.

23. Ira Kipnis, The American Socialist Movement, 1897-1912 (New York, Columbia University Press, 1952), p. 422.

24. Ibid., p. 5.

25. Later the Socialist Review.

26. Trachtenberg later became a member of the Central committee of the Communist Party, USA. In 1945 he was in charge of all the Party’s national and Moscow-obtained literature. Louis Francis Budenz, This Is My Story (New York, McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1947), pp. 230, 305.

27. Revolutionary Radicalism, Vol. II, pp. 1599 ff.

28. Ibid.

29. Max Beer, op. cit., p. 228.

30. In the British elections of 1920, the Labour Party was so far from obtaining a majority of the working class vote that one wonders how much popular support it could have mustered and held for a general strike.

31. The textbook on American history by David Saville Muzzey, long used in many high school classes, reflects Socialist opinion about the Lusk Committee. Dr. Muzzey, who taught at Columbia University, lectured regularly at the Rand School and was listed as a “cooperator” of the League for Industrial Democracy in 1955. See Appendix II.

32. Revolutionary Radicalism, Vol. I, p. 587.

33. J. C. Rich, “60 Years of the Jewish Daily Forward,” The New Leader Section Two (June 3, 1957).

34. According to a report by Haden Guest, joint secretary of a British Labour Delegation to Russia in 1920, Lenin had told the delegates: ‘The Left Communists in England are making blunders because they are too much copying the first forms of the revolution in Russia. I am in favour of Parliamentary action. We had 20% of Communists in the Constituent Assembly and this was enough for victory. In your country 15 % might be enough for complete victory. . . . I hope Henderson comes into power with the Labour Party. It will be a lesson to the workers.” Revolutionary Radicalism, Vol. II, pp. 1599 ff.

35. Ibid., p. 1789.

36. Kipnis, op. cit., p. 429.

Chapter 13 << | >> Chapter 15

Chapter 13–Left Hands Across The Sea

Chapter 13 of the book Fabian Freeway.


Organizationally, Fabian Socialism struck roots in the United States with the founding of the Intercollegiate Socialist Society (ISS) in 1905. Earlier attempts to establish Fabianism in America, which for a time seemed so promising, had proved impermanent—possibly because they tried to cover too much ground too fast. Fabian gradualists had not yet discovered how to make haste slowly in America.

After nearly twenty years of experimenting with utopian front-organizations, social-reform clubs and secret study circles in ivied halls—of proselyting among writers, preachers, suffragists, settlement workers, university professors and assorted intelligentsia—the Fabian Socialist movement in the United States of 1905 was no more than a sprinkling of disconnected groups and scattered individuals. Robert Hunter, who became a member of the Executive Committee of the ISS but in the end renounced his ties with Socialism, has described the situation as he knew it in those early days:

When I was a resident at Hull House in Chicago, at Toynbee Hall in London, and at the University settlement in New York, I was drawn by some bond of sympathy into close association with the labor and socialist leaders of the three great cities. For many years at home and abroad, I passed from one group to another in a world little known at the time—a world almost exclusively occupied with social problems and their solutions. The groups in America were small and without influence; but in Europe the leaders were in Parliament, and lines were forming in preparation for the class conflicts which followed the World War.(1)

Over the years, a certain number of Americans had discreetly joined the Fabian Society of London, partly because of its snob appeal, partly because there did not seem to be any comparable organization at home. In Britain, the Fabian Society taught manners to raucous partisans of revolution and made university-trained men and women the spokesmen for a type of Socialism that to many seemed a substitute for or an adjunct of religion.

In America, a new Socialist Party, formed in 1902 by Eugene V. Debs and Morris Hillquit,(2) had polled a total of 400,000 votes in the presidential elections of 1904. When analyzed, much of that vote was found to have come from Russian-Jewish immigrants in the New York needle trades, who had streamed to America in the eighties and nineties, bringing with them European ideologies of revolt; (3) and from the remnants of outlawed Anarchist labor groups in the West who flocked into Big Bill Haywood’s newly organized Industrial Workers of the World. Despite an impressive showing at the polls, in the light of America’s election laws there was little prospect that Socialism could ever really come to power in the United States through a third party. For most of those who had voted the Socialist ticket, revolution was still the goal and violence was by no means abjured.

It was not by political platforms and programs, but as an alleged “educational” movement that Fabian Socialism gained a lasting foothold in the United States. Lessons in leftism for college students proved to be the magic formula that unexpectedly opened the door to future influence and respectability. Under the pretext of satisfying young peoples’ “normal desire” for information on the nature of Socialism, the ISS—which in 1921 changed its name to the League for Industrial Democracy (LID)—was able to establish itself unobtrusively as an American outpost and affiliate of the London Fabian Society.

Having endured more than half a century, it is today the oldest continuing Socialist society in the country—the deceptively mild and beneficent mother society from which a whole swarm of destructive activities and organizations has sprung. The LID in 1956 even supplied a chairman for the Socialist International.(4) At a succession of latter-day anniversary dinners, graced by an imposing array of higher educators, theologians, industrial union czars and public officials, the tale of its modest beginnings has been told and re-told.

Late in the afternoon of September 12, 1905, a hundred-odd dissatisfied adults and two college students gathered in a loft above Peck’s Restaurant in New York’s famed fish market district. Of the ten who signed the original call to the meeting, all but the youthful Jack London and Upton Sinclair had been moving spirits in the American Fabian League. (5) Some, like Colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Clarence Darrow, had even helped to launch the first Bellamy Nationalist clubs, demonstrating a continuity in the Fabian movement, from its beginnings in this country, that persists to the present day. It is a species of profane apostolic succession, traceable directly to the first high priest of Fabian Socialism, Sidney Webb, and beyond him more mysteriously to the author of all Social Democracy—the diabolically inspired Karl Marx, seated in his London study with half a dozen black cats climbing up his arms and shoulders. (6)

Not only the signers of the call but those who responded to it were confirmed advocates of Socialism in quest of a following. Among them were such characters as William Z. Foster, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and Ella Reeve Bloor, who at a later date became leaders of the Communist Party in the United States. Their presence at the founders’ meeting of the ISS testified to the essential unity of all professing the Social Democratic faith, despite some differences on method, procedure and dogma which became increasingly acute during World War I and after the Russian Revolution.

This basic sympathy serves to explain certain otherwise mystifying features in the society’s subsequent history. Namely, its intensive efforts during the nineteen-twenties to furnish legal aid and subsistence for the then-illegal Communist Party of the United States; and the visible determination of ISS members, individually and collectively, since 1917 to insure the survival of the Socialist Fatherland, notwithstanding the fact that their organization ultimately took steps to bar known American Communists from its ranks.

From that first enthusiastic gathering at Peck’s Restaurant, the ISS was born. The object of the new venture was discreetly understated —a departure from previous techniques—yet broad enough to embrace many Socialist factions. It was declared to be purely “for the purpose of promoting an intelligent interest in Socialism among college men and women, graduate and undergraduate . . . and the encouraging of all legitimate endeavours to awaken an interest in Socialism among the educated men and women of the country.” Membership in the Socialist Party was not a prerequisite for membership in the ISS.

Jack London, flushed with his recent success as the novelist of the great outdoors and the darling of the conservationists, was the unanimous choice for president. J. G. Phelps Stokes and Upton Sinclair were elected vice presidents and Owen R. Lovejoy, reformer and Ethical Culturist, was treasurer. Morris Hillquit, Katherine Maltby Meserole, George Strobell and the Reverend George Willis Cooke were named to the Executive Committee. On the plea that the Executive of a collegiate society ought to include at least one undergraduate, Harry Laidler, then a student at Wesleyan, was added as an afterthought.

In various fumigated accounts of the Intercollegiate Socialist Society’s formation, one point is passed over lightly if not wholly suppressed. Nominally, the new organization existed chiefly to stimulate an interest in Socialism among undergraduates, who were to be organized in campus chapters or clubs under a centralized leadership. Yet only a few of its hundred or more founding members were primarily involved in collegiate activities. What, then, was the function of the ISS with reference to its adult founders and to the successive generations of college alumni who remained so firmly attached to it over the years?

Not for more than fifty years was its true purpose officially disclosed. By that time a substantial number of its trainees and “cooperators” had achieved influential posts in education and in government. (7) Others controlled the expenditure of multi-million dollar labor union funds. Their combined influence was widespread, and their personal respectability was assured. Only then was it considered safe to admit, in literature designed for student recruitment, that the ISS had actually been founded as an American Fabian Society (8)—a secret society of intellectuals, that would provide the leadership for a Fabian Socialist movement devoted to gaining political power in America, directly or indirectly. Just as in the London Fabian Society, individual members were expected to be politically active in their chosen spheres, while the ISS itself remained aloof from public controversy on electoral and policy matters.

Because British Fabians of the day gave top priority to the formation of student groups at Oxford and Cambridge, their American understudies now stressed the importance of recruiting bright and ambitious adolescents. Here, again, the ISS preferred to mask its motives. For years ISS spokesmen continued to protest that their intention was not to indoctrinate. To an attack in Collier’s, Colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson replied wittily but far from truthfully: “The primary aim of the society was to create students of Socialism, not to produce Socialists, and any who criticized this object must be classed with those medieval grammarians who wrote, ‘May God confound thee for thy theory of irregular verbs!’” (9) There is a marked similarity between his argument and the grounds sometimes given today for inviting Communist Party speakers to address campus audiences.

By way of further dissembling their proselyting zeal, student chapters of the ISS even adopted the practice of inviting an occasional speaker opposed to Socialism. In the organization’s Bulletin for 1912, Professor V. Karapetoff of Cornell University explained: “From an educational point of view, this is an excellent training for analysis and debate.” As a result, university administrations did not seriously interfere with the “peaceful activities” of the student chapters. At the same time, such undergraduate groups provided a buffer for Socialist professors, who had previously feared, with good reason, to expose themselves.

It was a full half century before the ISS finally conceded that from the first its intent had been fiercely and fervently missionary. In a fiftieth anniversary commemorative booklet, (10) inscribed to Dr. Harry Laidler “for a lifetime of dedicated service,” Mina Weisenberg acknowledged that the organization had always aimed to capture the heads and the hearts of the nation’s future leaders.(11) True, one did not need to be a Socialist in order to join a college club; but somehow—as in the earlier American Fabian League—only convinced Socialists were accepted as officers of campus chapters or were welcomed after graduation into the parent society.

On the proverbial shoestring, the ISS began its work among the colleges within a few months after its formation. Unlike European universities, which had fang been breeding-places for student Socialism, the undergraduate field in America was still largely a virgin one. Before the Intercollegiate Socialist Society arose, only two Socialist study groups for college students were known to exist in the United States. One had been started at the University of Wisconsin by William Leiserson, ultimately a chairman of the National Mediation Board, and Dan Hoan, future Socialist Mayor of Milwaukee. Both men became enduring members of the new Socialist Society.

The other group had been experimentally launched at the University of Chicago by William English Walling, who gained some prominence during his lifetime as a writer on labor politics and a member of the Labor Delegation to the Versailles Peace Conference. An ardent Socialist of the gradualist persuasion, Walling likewise became an inspirer and founder in 1909 of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In that enterprise, which during more than half a century has swelled to formidable dimensions, Walling was associated with W. E. B. Dubois, a Negro alumnus of Harvard (1890), who joined the ISS as an adult, became a well-known educator and eventually attached himself to the Communist apparatus. (12)

Walling’s chief claim to posthumous fame, however, derives from his book, American Labor and American Democracy, published in 1926 with an introduction by Professor John R. Commons. There he advanced a plan for effecting State Socialism in the United States under cover of the traditional “two-party system, rather than through a third party. That his plan was of interest to British Fabians is evident, since he lectured in 1929 at a Fabian Summer School in England.(13) William English Walling is generally regarded as a precursor of the present-day school of “democratic” action in American politics. He was among those who signed the original call leading to the founding of the ISS.

Another patriarch of “democratic” Socialism, Upton Sinclair, actively aided the ISS in its infancy. From his home at Princeton, New Jersey, in the fall and winter of 1905-08, Sinclair shipped out bundles of. Socialist propaganda, Fabian-fashion, to inquiring students and professors.

Then twenty-seven years old, Sinclair had just spent nine years as a wandering graduate and undergraduate student in universities from California to New York and had written five unknown novels. Immensely facile, persistent and energetic, he aspired to become an American Emile Zola, but never quite achieved it. In those journeyman years he was a protégé and house guest of Elizabeth Glendower Evans, whose well-appointed Boston home was simultaneously frequented by Florence Kelley and Judge Louis D. Brandeis.

At the moment, Sinclair was engaged in completing still another novel, The Jungle, a subsidized expose of conditions in the Chicago stockyards, which he wrote without ever having been in Chicago. His source was an early American Marxist, A. M. Simons, who had written a pamphlet, called Packingtown, six years before. Simons (14) did the “research” for Sinclair and served as a model for the election-night orator in the final pages of The Jungle. Because muckraking was just coming into style, and because President Theodore Roosevelt had a legitimate bone to pick with the meat packers dating from the beef scandals of the Spanish-American War, Sinclair’s sixth novel proved a sensation, catapulting him into a long and profitable career as a Socialist muckraker.

When President Theodore Roosevelt invited Upton Sinclair to come to Chicago as one of a commission to investigate the stockyards, the latter prudently declined. In his place, he sent Ella Reeve Bloor, “the little nut-brown woman” later known to Communists as Mother Bloor, whose son, Hal Ware, was to found a Communist espionage cell within the United States Department of Agriculture in 1934. Sinclair’s persistent connection with individuals who became well-known Communists eventually won for him a wide and enthusiastic audience in Soviet Russia, where his highly-colored literary cartoons of the American scene remained popular for decades after they were passe in America. In later life, he described such friendships with apparent frankness in memoirs that were serially published in the Rand School’s Institute of Social Studies Bulletin for 1952-53.

The most spectacular event in the first two years of the ISS was Jack London’s speaking tour of the colleges. This was something new in America, suggested by the British Fabian practice of having student clubs at Oxford and Cambridge sponsor visiting Socialist lecturers. The notion of expanding a single lecture into a coast-to-coast campus tour, however, was a distinctly American feature, which proved useful then and later to the new organization, since it allowed a single organizer, or at most a bare handful, to cover the country. In time, it would also provide income and outlets for peripatetic British Fabians—from S. G. Hobson in 1908 to Harold Laski in 1924-1949, to Herman Finer, John Strachey, Rebecca West, St. John Ervine, and a host of less well advertised English Socialists in more recent years.

So Jack London was merely the first m a long left-ward procession that to this day has never ended. Then at the peak of his literary popularity, a husky figure in an open-necked white flannel shirt, he looked as sturdily American as his native redwoods, although his mission was less indigenous. The day after his appearance at Yale University, the New Haven Register declared: The spectacle of an avowed Socialist, one of the most conspicuous in the country, standing on the platform of Woolsey Hall, was a sight for God and man!” Unabashed by such comments, Jack London retorted by inscribing himself in various hotel registers, “Yours for the Revolution!”—a flamboyant gesture that appealed to his immature audiences and to the wealthy hostesses who vied with each other in lionizing him.


During 1906, a number of student groups sprang up at Columbia, Wesleyan, Yale, Harvard and other colleges. Of these, the Columbia University crop proved in the long run to be of most direct service to the future “educational” work of the parent organization in New York City; while the Harvard club developed a top-level, largely undercover elite, more closely resembling and intimately allied to its progenitors of the British Fabian Society.

Charter members of the Harvard Socialist Club included Walter Lippmann, Kenneth MacGowan, Lee Simonson, Nicholas Kelley, Osmond Fraenckel and Heywood Broun; with Sam Elliott, Hiram Moderwell, John Reed, Robert Edmond Jones and others soon joining up.(15) “If anyone taking a bird’s-eye view of Cambridge at one o’clock in the morning were to see five or six groups of excited Harvard men gesticulating on various street comers, let him know that a Socialist club held a meeting that night,” wrote young Walter Lippmann in the Harvard Illustrated Review.

There is no evidence that any of the individuals mentioned ever renounced their allegiance to Socialism—with the possible exception of the New York World columnist, Heywood Broun, first president of the American Newspaper Guild. After serving for years on the Board of Directors of the League for Industrial Democracy (LID) and developing close ties with the Communists, (16) Broun finally became a near-deathbed convert to Catholicism. John Reed, now buried beside the Kremlin wall, openly threw in his lot with the Communists after 1917, becoming an employee of the “international revolutionary propaganda bureau” in Moscow. (17) Reputedly the victim of a typhus epidemic, John Reed left behind him a purported eyewitness account of the Russian Revolution, Ten Days That Shook The World—a potent piece of Soviet propaganda, now believed (like the Webbs’ later work on Soviet civilization) to have been of composite authorship.

Others of the group found it preferable after graduation to masquerade under the name of liberal. Nicholas Kelley sat from 1912 to 1933 on the Board of Directors of the Intercollegiate Socialist Society and the LID. Nevertheless, he became the liberal vice president and general counsel of the Chrysler Corporation (18)—first automobile company to capitulate in the industry-wide strike of the middle nineteen-thirties which was sparked by young Walter Reuther, who had been president of the Students’ League for Industrial Democracy (SLID) chapter at Wayne University.

Lee Simonson and Robert Edmond Jones helped to found the Theatre Guild in New York City, which popularized the plays of George Bernard Shaw according to techniques borrowed from the Moscow Art Theatre. Kenneth MacGowan, president of the Harvard Socialist Club in 1910, became a professor of Theater Arts at the University of California and a motion-picture producer.

Strangest of all and hardest to unravel is the tangled web of Walter Lippmann’s career—the lad who had seemed to be the brightest and most promising among the charter members of the Harvard Socialist Club and who gradually became so entrapped in his own obscurantism that in the end he found it difficult to express and maintain a plain-spoken position on any topic. Perhaps the case of Walter Lippmann best illustrates the secretive nature and frequently confusing surface manifestations of top-echelon Fabian Socialism in the United States.

Only son of well-to-do and cultured German-Jewish parents in New York City, the boy Lippmann was handsome, well mannered and remarkably but not offensively precocious. At Harvard he made a brilliant scholastic record, ingratiated himself with his professors, and joined a quantity of non-social clubs, being ineligible at that time for membership in the more exclusive Porcellian and Hasty Pudding Clubs. He did volunteer work at Hale House, a Boston settlement house where generations of young Harvard Socialists went to learn how the less fortunate lived.

With fellow members of the Harvard Socialist Club, Lippmann spent idyllic weekends at the country home of the Reverend Ralph Albertson, exponent of Christian Socialism and president of Twentieth Century Magazine. During the summer of 1909 the attractive, ambitious youth was received into the Fabian Society of London, (19) which watched over and promoted his subsequent career, judging him qualified for tasks of infiltration at the highest levels.

After graduation, Lippmann served briefly as aide to the Socialist mayor of Schenectady, New York. Thereafter he withdrew from the rough and tumble of Socialist Party politics to become a “liberal” interpreter of British Fabian Socialist policies—first to Democratic leaders in the Wilson Administration, later to financial pillars of the Republican Party. True, an uninstructed reader of Lippmann might find it difficult to form a clear picture of where he really stood. A painstaking analysis of his column, “Today and Tomorrow,” from 1932 to 1938 finds him taking favorable, unfavorable and neutral positions in somewhat bewildering succession on identical issues of the days. (20)

During those years he was engaged in penetrating the upper ranks of the American business and financial community and gaining the good will of industrial statesmen. Having supported his World War I chief in the War Department, Newton D. Baker, against Franklin D. Roosevelt for the 1932 Democratic nomination, Lippmann recouped his error by becoming a columnist for the Republican New York Herald Tribune and the author of “liberal” Republicanism. It was not only his function to let the conservatives know what the “other half thinks,” but also to let Socialists know what the conservatives thought and planned. (21)

Articles attacking him in the pro-Socialist weekly, The Nation, by LID members Amos Pinchot and Max Lerner merely aided him to win friends in other circles. (Pinchot variously called him “The Great Elucidator” and “The Great Obfuscator”!) Lippmann’s trip to Europe in the middle nineteen-thirties with Thomas W. Lamont of J. P. Morgan and Company appeared to confer the final accolade upon him. It is unjust, however, to assume as many did that Lippmann had abandoned his Socialist faith. A chronological sampling of his books and articles to date reflects, in a more or less guarded fashion, the changing policies of British Fabian Socialism—from the Wilsonian Fourteen Points and League of Nations to the Atlantic Community and regional federations; from outright defense of the Socialist Fatherland to the tacit assumption that Communism is here to stay; from advocacy of direct government operation of the basic means of production and exchange to indirect political control of the nation’s wealth through “cooperation” and voluntary renunciation of their historic role by leaders of private enterprise.

Forsaking any hope of political rewards at an early age, when the best he might have expected was to be named Ambassador to Turkey, Lippmann dedicated himself instead to reaching key persons in diplomacy, business and the academic world—and to benefitting unostentatiously from his private investments and an ample income derived from syndication of his column. Lippmann’s social success, fiscal good fortune and unerring gift for restricting his contacts to persons of importance, have naturally provoked some ill-natured comments from Socialists of lesser status, not privy to his lofty role in what H. G. Wells in The New Machiavelli called “the open conspiracy.” They fail to perceive his lifelong consistency as a penetrator and permeator par excellence, or to recognize his continuous service as a forecaster of Fabian fashions in thought and action. It must not be forgotten that Lippmann was the first American intellectual to advocate the use of applied psychology in promoting Socialism. He was also the first to introduce John Maynard Keynes to America, having helped to arrange for the publication in this country of Keynes’ early and mischievous work, The Economic Consequences of the Peace.(22)

Above all, Walter Lippmann has been the chief literary practitioner in this country of a tactic which the British Fabian Sidney Webb developed to a fine art in politics and which Vladimir Lenin himself approved on occasion, describing it as “one step backward, two steps forward.” This tactic was rediscovered and emulated in Washington in the early nineteen-sixties by both “liberal” Democrats and “modern” Republicans. Life magazine for March, 1961, reported that Walter Lippmann, rescued from apparently harmless desuetude, had become one of President John F. Kennedy’s favorite columnists and informal advisers. He survived Kennedy, so many years his junior, to become an adviser behind the scenes to President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Toward the public at large, Lippmann’s attitude does not differ materially from that which he expressed many years ago as president of the Harvard Socialist Club: “In a general way, our object was to make reactionaries standpatters; standpatters, conservatives; conservatives, liberals; liberals, radicals; and radicals, Socialists. In other words, we tried to move everyone up a peg. We preferred to have the whole mass move a little, to having a few altogether out of sight. (23) That year he circulated a petition requesting a course in Socialism, which was signed by three hundred students and which apparently bore fruit. In 1910 Professor Graham Wallas, one of the original Big Four of the London Fabian Society, was invited to deliver the Lowell Lectures at Harvard.

It was a time when American Fabian Socialism, still in the exploratory stage and unsure of its future, was seeking to discover techniques for moving the great mass of American public opinion in the direction of “peaceful” social revolution. The Harvard student group and its mentors, disturbed by press reactions to Jack London’s cheerful rowdiness, were beginning to ask themselves earnestly, as G. D. H. Cole did much later in a jocular vein:

How shall we educate the Americans

To admire the Fabian Socialist elegance . . . ?(24)

To such questions, Professor Graham Wallas seemed in his day to be the answer incarnate.

Wallas had been one of the first two instructors at the London School of Economics, when the number of its students could be counted on the fingers of a single hand. Conversational in his manner of teaching, smiling, insinuating and attractive, (25) he made a lasting impression on many young people at Harvard and some of their elders as well. His field was politics, which he treated primarily as a problem in social psychology. More than any other person, he initiated the psychological approach to Socialism, by which widely disparate elements of the population could be led, step by step and almost unawares, to accept and foster radical changes in the social, economic and political spheres. For Graham Wallas, as he wrote in The Great Society, the aim of social psychology was “to control human conduct!”

Superficially, Wallas appeared to be just another free-lance professor, unfettered by organizational ties or loyalties. He had purportedly severed all connections with the London Fabian Society in 1904, after tilting publicly with Sidney Webb on tariff policy and on the matter of municipal aid to Catholic schools—of which Wallas disapproved. In fact, however, he had taken upon himself an isolated mission of key importance. America was truly a land flowing with milk and honey, which must be subjugated before British Fabians could hope to build their own peculiar version of Blake’s Jerusalem in the New World as well as the Old. It was advisable, however, that any such schemes of conquest should not seem to originate with the London Fabian Society.

In his time, Wallas was a one-man Fabian International Bureau, beamed directly at the United States, fully thirty years before such a bureau was officially created. At intervals he returned to teach in the London School of Economics and to be warmly welcomed by old comrades. Through the select contacts which he cultivated on both sides of the water, Wallas proved helpful in securing appointments, fellowships and emoluments for individual British Fabians, as well as money from American foundations for expanding the London School. He also appears to have exercised some influence on Socialist-minded individuals already holding, or soon to hold, policy-making posts in Washington.

Demonstrating that Anglo-American Fabians never ceased to treat Wallas as one of themselves, Harold Laski, a future chairman of the London Society then teaching at Harvard, wrote on March 11, 1918, to Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: “A brief note came from Felix full of eagerness and a cry of joy about the general sanity and foresight of Graham Wallas. I wish he were back. (26) The “Felix” was, of course, the late Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, then counsel and secretary of President Wilson’s Mediation Commission, which had just issued its Report on Industrial Unrest.

During 1919 Graham Wallas was lecturing at the New School for Social Research in New York City. The school had recently been founded by the New Republic editor, Alvin Johnson, as an adult education center for the well-to-do and a haven for lame duck professors of the Socialist persuasion. In a letter of December, 1919, Wallas told Laski that Sir William Beveridge, as director of the London School of Economics, had just written to inquire about the prospects of Harold Laski’s working in London, and added: “I am suggesting to him that you should try to teach both at Oxford and in London.” (27) Sidney Webb also wrote urging that a post be found for Laski at the London School—a sign that Wallas and Webb still saw eye to eye on matters of importance to the London Society.

In recommending the psychological approach to control of public opinion, Graham Wallas set the tone for several generations of Fabian Socialist activity in America. He bequeathed his literary style and intellectual mannerisms to Walter Lippmann, for whom Wallas cherished high hopes that were only partially fulfilled. More significantly, the studied and carefully timed application of social psychology to practical politics, which furnished the impetus for Roosevelt’s New Deal, Kennedy’s New Frontier, and Johnson’s Great Society, can be traced to the ideas first instilled among Harvard “liberals” by Graham Wallas. Such latter-day developments as the Institute for Advanced Behavioral Studies at Stanford University—where respectable Socialists like Bruce Bliven, erstwhile editor of the New Republic, have been sustained in their declining years—sprang from the seeds sowed by Wallas over half a century before.

Friends recall Graham Wallas as a kindly and cultured English gentleman with a natural sweetness of disposition, (28) a useful trait in any missionary endeavor. Even Beatrice Webb, ordinarily acid in commenting on the cronies of Sidney’s bachelor days, described Wallas as “lovable.” It is instructive to note that ever since Wallas made his appearance on the American scene, the Fabian Socialist leadership in the United States has recognized the value and enjoyed its share of “lovable” characters—from August Claessens to Harry Laidler and Norman Thomas; from Robert Morss Lovett to John Dewey and the venerable, omnipresent Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr, Director Emeritus of Union Theological Seminary, whom it seemed difficult to credit with any destructive purpose.

Testifying before a Congressional Committee in 1956, Harry Laidler, who for some fifty years administered America’s counterpart of the London Fabian Society, suggested that the choice of such front personalities was deliberate. In a purely secular vein, Laidler cited the words of St. Francis de Sales: “You can catch more flies with one drop of honey than with a barrel of vinegar.”


Not only the taste of honey, but the newly organized opportunities for gaining prominence and/or success in their chosen fields captivated and held many gifted young intellectuals through the years. Continuity of membership, often handed down from father to son, and the steady acquisition of new blood well mixed with the old, proved to be as characteristic of the revitalized American Fabian movement as of the London Society. Walter Rauschenbusch (29) and his son Stephen, the Arthur M. Schlesingers, Senior and Junior, are only a few of the more outstanding examples.

Husband-and-wife teams, following in the footsteps of the Sidney Webbs and their coterie, flourished this side of the water. Among them were J. G. Phelps Stokes, an early president of the Intercollegiate Socialist Society, and his wife; Richard L. Neuberger and his wife Maurine, who successively became United States Senators from Oregon on the Democratic ticket; Paul H. Douglas, who served as president of the American Economic Association in 1947 and was elected United States Senator (D.) from Illinois the next year, and his wife Emily Taft Douglas, a former Congresswoman; Melvyn A. Douglas and his wife, Helen Gahagan Douglas, former actress and Congresswoman; Avraham Yarmolinsky and his wife, Babette Deutsch, the poetess, whose son, Adam, became a key Defense Department official in the Kennedy Administration. Thus the American Fabian movement, re-launched under such modest circumstances in 1905, has survived and snowballed to the present day through the polite tenacity of individuals and families.

Like the Fabian Society of London, the membership of the ISS and its successor, the League for Industrial Democracy, consisted of a few hundred publicists and public figures usually better known for their activity in related organizations than in the parent group; plus a much larger group of industrious but less widely trumpeted associates whose connection with the parent organization remained constant but vague. Membership lists of the LID have never been published, but from first to last the membership appears to have been more numerous than is commonly believed.

In 1955, on the occasion of the ISS’s 50th anniversary celebration, a “partial record of past and present collaborators” was officially made public by Mina Weisenberg. Inserted into the Congressional Record, this list provides a disturbing picture of persons in influential places, up to and including the White House itself, committed to the gradual but ever more rapid achievement of a so-called Cooperative Commonwealth in America.30 Here, among other things, is the key to the modern influx of Socialist-oriented university professors who have not only shaped the current philosophy of education in the United States but who—like Professors Alvin H. Hansen and Seymour E. Harris and a host of like-minded colleagues since 1932–have been called upon as Executive “consultants” to formulate and steer the policies of the United States Government.

It became a tacit tradition among native Fabians, open or covert, to promote not merely their friends and relatives but approved individuals often personally unknown to them yet known to the leadership of the American group. As trusty Fabian Socialists, frequently wearing the “liberal” or “progressive” label, established themselves gradually, firmly and increasingly in the professions, literature and popular journalism; in higher education and research; in reform movements, labor union leadership, politics and government service, they trained and carried their successors along with them. Thus the movement for “peaceful” social revolution in the United States expanded, becoming ever more diffuse and more difficult to pinpoint, until it assumed the aspect of a nationwide fraternity with a largely secret membership held together by invisible ties of ideology. Few outsiders realized this movement emanated always from a single center, whose unchanging aim was to supplant the constitutional American system of checks and balances with a collectivist state under Socialist International guidance.

It is noteworthy how many who subsequently became “valued leaders of thought in their respective fields,” (31) started their careers as collegiate leaders of Socialist clubs and devoted the whole of their lives, directly or indirectly, to furthering the same destructive cause. By 1910, when Harry Laidler became the first paid organizer of the ISS, that society admitted it was holding lectures and discussions and distributing literature through its chapters in fifteen universities. Two years later it reported forty-three chapters, (32) and by the time of World War I the tally had risen to sixty.(33)

Active officers of student clubs in that era, who became prominent in the intellectual ferment following the war, included: Inez Milholland, Mary Fox and Edna St. Vincent Millay, the bohemian poetess, of Vassar; Bruce Bliven of Stanford, who became a senior editor of the New Republic, and Freda Kirchwey (of Barnard) longtime editor of its sister left wing weekly, The Nation; Randolph Bourne’ the essayist, Paul Douglas, the liberal Senator, and Louis Lorwin, the columnist, all of Columbia; Isadore Lubin, of Clark, who became a Labor Department official in the New Deal Administration, together with Edwin Witte and David Saposs of Wisconsin. From 1945 to 1952 Dr. Lubin represented the United States on the United Nations Economic and Social Council.(34)

Amherst produced Evans Clark, afterwards of The New York Times and the Twentieth Century Fund; Ordway Tead, writer and lecturer, who became Research Director of the LID and served as chairman of the Board of Higher Education in New York City; and the Raushenbushes, father and son. (35) The father strove to perpetuate Socialist dogmas among the clergy, while the son helped to found the National Public Ownership League, which spawned the Tennessee Valley Authority and other schemes for political control of electric power.

There were also Broadus Mitchell of Johns Hopkins; Abraham Epstein of Pittsburgh, sometimes called “the little giant of social insurance”; Theresa Wolfson of Adelphi, long a professor of Economics at Brooklyn College; Otto Markwardt and William Bohn, then instructors at Wisconsin, the latter to become an editor of the Socialist New Leader; and others, too numerous to mention, coming from Ivy League colleges as well as land-grant colleges. Harvard University, though an acknowledged leader in the production of Socialist intellectuals, was far from being the unique source.

In those pre-World War I years British Fabian lecturers were already roaming the campuses and cities of America. Fiction by British Fabian authors, whom few Americans recognized as Socialists, headed the best seller lists. The novels of H. G. Wells, Arnold Bennett and John Galsworthy, the published plays of George Bernard Shaw, became standard reading matter for literate Americans and were favored as high school graduation gifts to boys and girls preparing for college.

Immediately after the war, publication in this country of two works by two British Fabian economists, J. M. Keynes’ Economic Consequences of the Peace and R. H. Tawney’s The Acquistive Society, helped to popularize Marxian critiques of the economic and social order, even though the name of Marx was not mentioned. The “social unrest” that a number of serious thinkers hopefully predicted would follow the First World War and usher in a new world order was seized upon by Wilsonian liberals in America, abetted by Christian Socialist divines, as a pretext for advancing piecemeal the program outlined in Sidney Webb’s Labour and the New Social Order.

A generally tolerant attitude towards the Russian Revolution and a sophisticated indifference to its bloodier aspects, tempered by some public finger shaking, have characterized American Fabians from 1917 to the present day. The roots for this must be sought in the splintered history and joint Marxist-IWW origins of the Socialist movement in the United States. And for this movement the American Fabians, like their British tutors, attempted to provide intellectual leadership and direction behind a blandly respectable front.


1. Robert Hunter, Revolution (New York, Harper & Brothers, 1940), p. 6.

2. Morris Hillquit, New York; national secretary, Socialist Party of America; joint publisher, The Call; instructor, and lecturer, Rand School of Social Sciences; national council, League for Industrial Democracy; national committee, American Civil Liberties Union; one of original founders, Intercollegiate Socialist Society; contributing editor, Labor Age; chairman, Committee on Organization and Finance, Conference for Progressive Political Action. Railway Review, Chicago (January 27, 1923).

3. Mark Starr, “Garment Workers: ‘Welfare Unionism,’” Current History (July, 1954), Reprint by International Ladies Garment Workers Union. No page numbers.

4. The late Bjaarne Braatoy, a former president of the League for Industrial Democracy and a World War II staff member of the Office of Strategic Services, became chairman of the Socialist International in 1956. He died of a heart attack in 1957.

5. Signers of the original call were: Colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Clarence Darrow, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, J. G. Phelps Stokes, B. O. Flower, Leonard O. Abbott, Oscar Lovell Triggs, William English Walling, Jack London and Upton Sinclair.

6. Max Beer, Fifty Years of International Socialism (London, Allen & Unwin, 1935), p. 137. Account of an interview with Maltman Barry, a contributor in the eighteen-seventies to the London Standard, who frequently visited Karl Marx at home.

7. See Appendix II.

8. From a prospectus of 1959-60 issued nationwide for the Students’ League for Industrial Democracy, under the masthead of the League for Industrial Democracy.

9. Italics were originally added, now removed.

10. Reprinted in full in the Congressional Record of October 12, 1962.

11. Italics were originally added, now removed.

12. Bela Hubbard, Political and Economic Structures (Caldwell Idaho, Caxton Printers, Ltd., 1956), p. 111.

13. Fabian News (July, 1929).

14. William A. Glaser, “A. M. Simons: American Marxist.” Institute of Social Studies Bulletin, Vol. I, No. 6, p. 67.

15. Forty Years of Education (New York, League for Industrial Democracy, 1945), p. 19.

16. J. B. Matthews, Odyssey of a Fellow Traveler (New York, Mt. Vernon Publishers, Inc., 1938), p. 272.

17. Senate Document No. 62, 66th Congress, Vol. III, p. 469. Testimony of Louise Bryant, wife of John Reed. According to Louise Bryant, Reed’s chief in the propaganda bureau was Boris Reinstein of Buffalo, New York, afterwards Lenin’s secretary.

18. See Appendix II.

19. Fabian News (October, 1909).

20. David Elliott Weingast, Walter Lippmann: A Study in Personal Journalism. With an introduction by Harold L. Ickes. (New Brunswick, Rutgers University Press, 1949), pp. 61-77.

21. Ibid., p. 130.

22. Congressional Record (October 12, 1962), p. 22120.

23. Ibid.

24. Fabian Journal (February, 1951).

25. Max Beer, op. cit., pp. 82-83.

26. Holmes-Laski Letters, 1916-1935. With a foreword by Felix Frankfurter. DeWolf Howe, ed. (Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1953), p. 141.

27. Kingsley Martin, Harold Laski: A Biographical Memoir (New York, The Viking Press, Inc., 1953), p. 38.

28. Max Beer, op. cit., pp. 82-83.

29. See Appendix II. Walter Rauschenbusch was from 1886 to 1897 pastor at the Second Baptist Church, New York City. There he read and was influenced by the works of Henry George, Tolstoi, Mazzini, Marx, Ruskin and Bellamy. In 1891-92 he spent some time abroad, studying economics and theology at the University of Berlin and industrial conditions in England. “There, through Sidney and Beatrice Webb, he became interested in the Fabian Socialist movement.” Dictionary of American Biography, Dumas Malone, ed. (New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1935), Vol. XV, pp. 392-393.

30. This official list is printed in full in Appendix II and merits detailed study.

31. Forty Years of Education, op. cit., p. 20.

32. Morris Hillquit, History of Socialism (New York, Funka and Wagnalls Co., Inc., 1910 Edition), p. 355.

33. Social Democratic Herald (May 11, 1912).

34. Alice Widener, Behind the U. N. Front (New York, The Bookmailer, 1962) p. 107.

35. Ibid. The father spelled his name Rauschenbusch; the son dropped the Germanic c.

Chapter 12 << | >> Chapter 14