The gent above, fingering a young Tricky Dick’s brim, is none other than Prescott Bush, whose loins spawned a better-known twig, George H.W. Bush, our 41st President, who, in turn, cream-pied a shrub known as “W”, our 43rd Head Honcho.
Quite the dynasty, eh pop-pickers.
A dynasty based upon, as these things tend to be, two essential and fundamental ingredients – money and power.
In regard to the latter, the fact that he had joined the choir invisible before the Bush family achieved ultimate power was not for lack of trying on Prescott’s part. Back in 1933, the less-than-cuddly Prescott spearheaded a nefarious coven of one-percenters (allegedly including the heads of Chase Bank, GM, Goodyear, Standard Oil and DuPont family members) who attempted to recruit Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler to lead a military coup against President Franklin Roosevelt and install a fascist dictatorship in the United States.
Yup -it’s a fact.
Can you believe it? Respected members of our business community -leaders of industry and men made wealthy by America – plotting to destroy democracy?!!
Boy, things ain’t changed much in the last 75 years!
The early 1930s was a time of hardship and misery. The world was enveloped in the deepest of economic recessions, caused by the 1929 collapse of the stock market (oh-oh).
“Black Tuesday”, as the Wall Street crash of 1929 is dubbed, triggered the Great Depression which economically throttled America and the rest of the globe throughout the 1930s, throwing millions out of work and into abject poverty while inflation spiraled, trade withered and personal income, profits and tax revenues plummeted.
These harsh times also germinated extremes in politics, notably in Germany, where inflation and its handmaidens, joined by German resentment over the harsh peace terms dictated to the country by the victors of World War 1, led to the mercurial rise of the loathsome and murderous Nazi party.
The rapid ascent to power of Hitler and his henchmen did not go unnoticed in the U.S.A. The devastation of the Great Depression had caused many Americans to question the foundations of liberal democracy. Many traditionalists toyed with the ideas of Fascism and National Socialism and some American business leaders viewed fascism as a viable system to both preserve their interests and end the economic woes of the Depression.
Count Prescott Bush among them.
The Business Plot was born.
Bush and the aforementioned venerable doyens of society dreamt of a fascist America a la Hitler’s Third Reich – which would handily have taken care of such inconveniences as elections, rival political parties, freedom – that sort of thing.
That does not mean Prescott and his cronies were ready to order up their own jackboots, brown shirts and leather coats from their tailors. Their fascism was more of a business decision.
For Bush Sr. and Co. worshipped at the altar of business and high finance with a zealot’s passion. Money – and the preservation of their fortunes – were their deities.
A tawdry bunch of traitors without doubt, but practical men too, who had more than just a passing interest in the tenets of Nazism. They also had a substantial business interest, maintaining financial ties with Hitler’s Germany up through America’s entry into World War II.
Indeed Prescott Bush went further. He didn’t let the fact that America had joined the fight against Hitler’s murderous regime deter him from the quest for profit.
Recently declassified files from the National Archives have revealed Prescott’s business dealings with the Nazis continued on after war engulfed America, sailing on until his company’s assets were seized in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act.
You’d think the name of the Act itself would have tipped old Prescott off to the inappropriate nature of his dealings.
Bush carried right on representing the interests of German corporate concerns such as Consolidated Silesian Steel Company (CSSC), based in mineral rich Silesia on the German-Polish border, a company which made use of Nazi slave labour from the concentration camps, including Auschwitz, well after war was declared and didn’t stop until he was forced to by the asset seizure.
Not that his dirty but expertly manicured hands were smacked or anything for such noxious activities. No action was taken against Prescott for his despicable behavior.
Indeed, the frozen assets were maintained intact and eventually returned to the American shareholders after the war. Some claim that Bush sold his share thereafter for $1.5m – a huge amount of money at the time. It has also been suggested (or logically deduced) that the money he made from these dealings helped to establish the Bush family fortune and set up its political dynasty, which was to subsequently visit upon us the twin curses of the Georges.
Prescott had his revenge!
However, the so-called “Business Plot” – Prescott’s own power grab – failed. His fascist dream for this country stumbled out of the blocks.
In fact, it was never got out of the blocks, not because of a failure of resolve, but primarily because the conspiring oinks overlooked a rather pertinent (and well-known) fact in attempting to recruit said Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler to lead the coup.
Smedley Butler, it turns out, was not only a patriot …. he had also been a prominent and vocal FDR supporter who had actively stumped for the President during the 1932 presidential campaign!
Upon reflection, Prescott old boy, not the best pick to commit the ultimate treasonous act – the removal of a democratically elected President from office by force and against the will of the nation.
The full story of this sordid plot to overthrow democracy in the U.S. of A. is told below in a BBC documentary. It is a cautionary tale well worth your time and attention. As I said earlier, some things never change, no matter how far we may think this society has progressed since the dark days of the 1930s.
Such traitorous malfeasance, you would imagine, would result in immediate dispatch of the odious plotters to a 1930s Guantanamo-type detention facility, regardless of their wealth and position, and a liberal tarring-and-feathering from the black pot of treason.
Erm …., not quite!
A slow-moving Smedley Butler spilled the whole can of worms before a congressional committee in 1934. However, everyone he accused of being a conspirator vehemently denied it, and none of them – these princes of business – were brought up on criminal charges.
Try that one in court the next time you get a ticket. (“Didn’t do it, Your Honor, so go fuck yourself” … “Why, of course, Mr. Average, case dismissed. Now off you go and don’t get caught again” …. Yeah right!)
Oh, there was a investigative committee set up alright. However the House McCormack-Dickstein Committee, who did at least acknowledge the existence of the conspiracy, did what Congress still excels at doing – sweet fuck all!.
That was the end of it. The whole matter was swiftly swept under a very expensive rug and is now largely forgotten.
Forgotten …. or buried?
How many of you out there have ever even heard of The Business Plot?
Was it taught in history lessons in school, this plot to overthrow the democratically elected government of America?
Didn’t think so.
That, of course, is the point.
The super-wealthy believe they can act with impunity, cooking up insidious schemes designed to fundamentally re-align the political system of this country in their favor, and at the expense of democracy and individual freedom.
You know, like the sinister bunch lurking in the shadows behind Romney during Mad Mitt’s recent failed power grab, who would meet to discuss (and no doubt plot) just how to pull off their shrouded secret aspirations of taking over the reins of power by whipping-up white fear and hysteria over shifting demographics through an incessant deluge of lies, misdirection, trumped-up sleaze and cynical, hypocritical holier-than-thou fundamentalism, all the while hurling money at the machines of propaganda like it was going out of style.
Not money; democracy.
Which, if they had had their way, would be now way out of style and consigned to the dumper of history, never to be rediscovered by a soon-to-be barely-educated mass of serfs broken on the wheel of greed.
History appears to support the idea the rich and powerful can conspire directly against the fundamental tenets of this nation without fear of repercussions. Look no further than the quiet snuffing-out of scandal after the 1933 Business Plot for proof.
The rich and powerful will continue to pursue power and influence, and will be remorseless in doing whatever it takes to preserve their wealth and status against all real and perceived threats. The obscene sums spent by such persons of the political right during the 2012 Romney campaign was simply the tip of the iceberg of manipulation.
Gotta do something with all that money, lest it be wasted through some sort of “trickle down” leakage, eh boys?
Or by paying your fair share of taxes.
The 1933 Business Plot may seem like ancient history but take heed – the 2012 election was a close run thing …. astonishing when one considers Obama’s challenger refused to tell the nation anything of substance about his policies as if they were state secrets of the highest order.
Well, they were, actually – only the right-wing extremists didn’t yet have a state for their secrets. But they sure as hell knew they would have no hope of hoisting a nitwit like Mitt into the White House as their dancing puppet had their true autocratic intentions become known.
We only narrowly avoided this far more sinister covert attempt to tear down the halls of democracy this November by turning out to vote and showing, despite all the repugnant right-wing efforts to suppress the vote, that there is still power within the ballot box.
As long, that is, as a democratic nation insists upon governance by elected men and women beholden to the electorate – and government with the power and authority to control and regulate the behemoths of industry and the gorgons of Wall Street.
Don’t ever forget or neglect to vote.
Resist all attempts to dilute the power of your electoral voice and guard against disenfranchisement.
The plotters will continue to plot. They will continue to chorus private interest over public good.
Our best weapon against these dark dealers of greed is vigilance to, and involvement in, the political process, coupled with a social conscience that implicitly recognizes that freedom requires tolerance, consideration for others and recognition that there is morality only in equality for all.
The details of Prescott Bush’s business dealings with the Nazis can be found in an excellent article in the U.K. newspaper, The Guardian, here.
Prescott Bush is a fascinating historical figure and, for a sense of the man, it is instructive to watch the interview below, which dates from the mid-1950s, but sounds distressingly similar to the right-wing blethers and hocus pocus of today.
As they say, the apple never falls far from the tree!
Prescott Bush as grave robber: Did the father of George dig up the remains of Geronimo? That story here.