This is a great cautionary tale, I know I should find it shocking but frankly it doesnt suprise me. In the Bush neo-conservative world of the current U.S.A. this is always something to worry about.
Perhaps the most alarming slice of twentieth-century U.S. history is
virtually unknown to the general public, including most scholars of
American history. One hopes that a recent BBC documentary titled The
Plot Against America and an article of the same name by Columbia Law
School professor and longtime human rights activist Scott Horton, on
the website of Harper’s magazine, will sound an alert.
In 1934 a special Congressional committee was appointed to
conduct an investigation of a possible planned coup intended to topple
the administration of president Franklin D. Roosevelt and replace it
with a government modeled on the policies of Adolph Hitler and Benito
Mussolini. The shocking results of the investigation were promptly
scotched and stashed in the National Archives. While the coup attempt
was reported at the time in a few newspapers, including The New York
Times, the story disappeared from public memory shortly after the
Congressional findings were made available to president Roosevelt. It
was the recent release from the Archives of the Congressional report
that prompted the BBC and Horton commentaries.
The Congressional committee had discovered that some of the
foremost members of the economic elite, many of them household names at
the time, had indeed hatched a meticulously detailed and massively
funded plot to effect a fascist coup in America. The owners of Bird’s
Eye, Maxwell House and Heinz, among others, totaling about twenty four
major businessmen and Wall Street financiers, planned to assemble a
private army of half a million men, composed largely of unemployed
veterans. These troops would both constitute the armed force behind the
coup and defeat any resistance this in-house revolution might generate.
The economic elite would provide the material resources required to
sustain the new government.
The plotters hoped that widespread working-class
discouragement at the stubborn persistence of the Great Depression
would have sufficiently disenchanted the masses with FDR’s policies to
make the coup an easy ride. And they were appalled at Roosevelt’s
willingness after 1933 to initiate economic policies that economists
and businessmen considered dangerously Leftist departures from economic
orthodoxy. Only a fascist-style government, they thought, could enforce
the kind of economic “discipline” that would reverse the Great
Depression and restore profits.
Interestingly, it was a military man, a prominent retired
general assigned the task of raising the 500,000-man army, who blew the
whistle after pondering the grotesque implications of the undemocratic
installation of a fascist dictatorship in Washington. FDR was thus able
to nip the plot in the bud.