Viewpoint: The other Wallace and today

Back in April 1944, The New York Times published an article by FDR’s Vice President Henry A. Wallace, a one-time presidential contender (1948) and no relation to George Wallace.

Wallace had been asked by the newspaper to analyze the nature of a fascist and if such people posed a threat to the internal security of the United States.

What follows are some excerpts from that article: “A fascist,” said Wallace, “is one whose lust for money or power is combined with such an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence to gain his ends. The supreme god of a fascist, to which his ends are directed, may be money or power; may be a race or a class, may be a military, clique or an economic group; or may be a culture, religion, or a political party.

“The dangerous American fascist is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist, the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public, but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.

“American fascism will not be really dangerous until there is a purposeful coalition among the cartelists, the deliberate poisoners of public information, and those who stand for the KKK type of demagoguery.

“Still another danger is represented by those who, paying lip service to democracy and the common welfare, in their insatiable greed for money and the power which money gives, do not hesitate surreptitiously to evade the laws designed to safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion. American fascists of this stamp were clandestinely aligned with their German counterparts before the war, and are even now preparing to resume where they left off, after “the present unpleasantness” ceases.

“The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact. Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity, every crack in the common front against fascism. They use every opportunity to impugn democracy. They cultivate hate and distrust of both Britain and Russia. They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.

“Fascism in the postwar inevitably will push steadily for Anglo-Saxon imperialism and eventually for war with Russia. Already American fascists are talking and writing about this conflict and using it as an excuse for their internal hatreds and intolerances toward certain races, creeds and classes.”

How does Wallace’s assessment apply today? Do you see any conditions that match or resemble the trends he described in 1944?

Wallace rightly pointed out that there are monopolistic corporations in this country that fear lawful competition and are distrustful of democracy.

They would like to have it all their own way so that the small enterprise cannot grow and threaten their mammoth profits. They are willing to sacrifice democracy itself to gain that end.

We are farther down this road than most people suspect, but there are signs that more ordinary Americans are beginning to awaken and are preparing to take action.

The full text of Henry Wallace’s article can be found at

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