Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Roosevelt Myth by John T. Flynn

I wrote this review in the 1970s. I have not edited it for this blog.

A specter haunts the American political system, a specter whose ultimate potential is the destruction of the world, and whose goal is totalitarian rule over the United States of America.

This specter has one basic cause: unconstitutional control of American economic power by government. This control is potentially dangerous because the availability of this control could and inevitably must attract those who, through the political system, might seek to assume it for the sake of their own advantage rather than that of the nation.

Imagine the following scenario. A small group of fascistically oriented men meet and agree to begin steps toward taking over the United States government. Instead of doing this through the destructive means of military takeover, they decide to run a candidate for President, one whom they can control and one that has the personal charm to win election. The candidate, once found, runs, using all the available media tools, promising continued government spending (capturing the special interests), and new programs (capturing the envious).

Once in power, this group works to expand and maintain its hold on the government by bringing its own type of people into government, thereby becoming the establishment. By controlling education and the mass media, and by handing out larger and larger doles they are able to paint themselves as heroes and lovers of mankind, making the opposition look like haters and opponents of the good. By setting the terms of all debate, they effectively become the pacemakers, delegating the opposition to the roles of followers and me-tooers. Eventually, by means of scandal and propaganda, they hope to disenfranchise opposition totally and thereby keep control indefinitely.

After they settle into their positions, secure in their control, they can then proceed with the lawlessness which was their goal in the first place. Should they be caught, they need only cover-up, presenting to the public the image of honesty and problem solvers, looking to their opponents as the cause of anything that has gone wrong. Cover-ups would not be difficult since all involved are friends.

Actually, this scenario has happened. The U. S. has been in the grasp of such a group for over forty years. The group is the American Liberals.

Are they really as guilty and conniving as all that? Perhaps not. But it is true that Liberals have a feel for one another, a mindless way of knowing what's next. But this feel has a central focus, and that focus is based in hero-worship for any Liberal who has made it to the top. Each Liberal leader is a sort of god, a warrior whose cause is supposedly freedom and equality. But above all these warriors stands the chief, the super-Liberal of history, the wise and wonderful man known as Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

F.D.R. is the model whom the smaller chiefs hope to emulate, the man who set all the standards and established all the rules, he was the greatest Liberal the world has ever known. And it is by looking at him that we get an understanding of just how the Liberals operate.

John T. Flynn was an active journalist during the Roosevelt era. His book, THE ROOSEVELT MYTH, is a far different account of the New Deal than we have read in the countless other volumes about those years. It does not treat Roosevelt and his Liberals as if they had come down from Mount Olympus to save the world from itself, but as a small, conniving group of men whose only goal was to get and extend political power. To Flynn, Roosevelt was a myth, a man built all out of proportion to his actual size. Throughout the book, he demolishes this myth, systematically, in a manner that makes Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon look like small-time chiselers by comparison.


On August 15, 1941, before the U.S.’s involvement in World War II, and four months before Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt met with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in Placenta Bay off the coast of Newfoundland. The result of the meeting was THE ATLANTIC CHARTER. It proclaimed to the world that Britain and the U.S. should seek no aggrandizement, territorial or otherwise, that they wanted to see no territorial changes that were not wanted by the people of the countries involved in the Second World War, and that they respected the rights of all people to choose their own form of government.

But the Atlantic Charter was not, as the world has been led to believe, the full story. Roosevelt, in fact, made two monumental secret agreements with Churchill, one to send American troops to defend the Azores where an attack by Germany was expected, and the other to issue an ultimatum to Japan regarding the Pacific, both agreements of which were contrary to American foreign policy at the time and a violation of our neutrality. Roosevelt told Congressional leaders, upon his return home, that he had made no commitments to Churchill.


The Great Conferences were among Roosevelt's major achievements. At Tehran the world saw Roosevelt as a man among men, as a man who set his own terms. Certainly the U.S., a mighty power, could afford to set its own terms. Indeed, this is how Roosevelt was pictured, strong, in control and steadfast in his principles. At Tehran, in conference with Churchill and Stalin, Roosevelt was considered "the great figure."

But was he? Mr. Flynn paints a different picture.

"...Stalin got everything he wanted--everything without any exceptions. Churchill did not, because Roosevelt, in pursuit of his vain policy, sided with Stalin against Churchill. Roosevelt got nothing, as we shall see. He got, of course, the United Nations. But this had already been settled on before he went to Teheran. And what is more this was no victory because Stalin got the United Nations precisely on his own term and in a form that has enabled him to put his finger into every problem in the world and to completely frustrate the British and Americans in every effort to introduce order, peace and security. Roosevelt did not get what he believed to be his objective because he made it clear he had to have Stalin's free and wholehearted support in the United Nations or it would be a failure from the start. Forrest Davis commented that Stalin acted with dash, Roosevelt with tardy improvisation. Stalin layed his "great design" to control those sectors of eastern Europe which he wanted in his orbit. Roosevelt put all his eggs in one basket--his world organization scheme for which apparently he was prepared to sacrifice everything else, including the very things a world organization was expected to ensure. Meantime Stalin and Molotov did not shrink from lying or indulging in double talk and Roosevelt was foolish enough to believe them. At home Roosevelt's Red and pink collaborators and his closest consultants were busy pouring out Soviet propaganda. Harry Hopkins never tired of plugging for his friend Stalin. Henry Wallace, then Vice-President, was talking about encouraging a people's revolution in Europe to advance the cause of the common man. Tito was being glorified in American magazines by Red and pink writers and others who were just plain dupes. Stalin himself and the Soviet government were offered to the American people in new and happy colors until, as James F. Byrnes conceded, as the war neared its end Russia occupied a place in the good will of the American people exceeding that of any other ally. All this had been instigated and urged by Roosevelt himself. And no one knew it better than Stalin." (P. 354-5)

"Once again Churchill brought up the question of shifting the invasion effort from the west coast of France to the Balkans. He wanted to hurry the Italian invasion by amphibious landings in the North and on the Northeast Adriatic aimed at the Danube Valley, an operation in the Aegean aimed at Rhodes or the Dodecanese and operations in and from Turkey if she would come into the war. General Deane says that Churchill wanted the Anglo-American forces in the Balkans as well as the Russians and he suggests that Churchill's foresight was later approved by our hindsight. There can be no doubt that the Invasion of the French coast was a less formidable undertaking then an invasion of the Balkans when the subject was first considered. Our opportunity to get into France in 1943 had been thrown away by Roosevelt's agreement to yield to Churchill against all his military advisers. But the African invasion had gone more swiftly than was hoped for when launched, though the Italian operation had been troublesome. Now, however, that Italy was successfully invaded and the guerilla forces in Yugoslavia were so strong the question of the Balkan invasion took on added significance. Churchill urged it now with fresh vigor. But Stalin was adamant against it and this was enough reason for Roosevelt to object. Moreover, time was now running heavily against Roosevelt and Churchill Stalin's armies were winging their way toward his territorial objectives." (P. 355-6)

"There was still something more to be settled. Stalin had engineered Roosevelt into living in the Soviet embassy although the American embassy was available. He had done this by exploiting the danger to the President from German spies. Roosevelt was, of course, in no greater danger than the British Prime Minister. The success of Stalin's maneuver in this matter was soon to become clear. Later Roosevelt told his son Elliot that "in between times Uncle Joe and I had a few words, too--just the two of us." As Stalin's guest in the Russian embassy, Roosevelt was accessible for a secret talk or two without Churchill's knowledge. One of these dealt with the Chinese Communist issue. Roosevelt told Elliott we couldn't do much about that "while Winnie was around." He brought up the question of a common front against the British on the matter of Hong Kong, Shanghai and Canton. Chaing, Roosevelt told Stalin, was worried about what Russia would do in Manchuria. Roosevelt and Stalin agreed that Manchuria would remain with China and that Stalin and he would back Chiang against the British. Referring to this, Roosevelt confided to Elliott that "the biggest thing was in making clear to Stalin that the United States and Great Britain were not in one common block against the Soviet Union" After that the way must have seemed wide open to Stalin for all his plans. Here was Roosevelt suggesting a secret deal between himself and Stalin against Churchill, just as he had suggested a secret deal between himself and Chiang against Churchill and as he was later to make another secret deal between himself and Stalin against Chiang. (P. 358-9)


There is considerable evidence that Roosevelt deliberately deceived the American people about his intentions concerning war with Japan. In speeches he echoed his conviction that Americans would not be sent to war. Yet, in order to stimulate the economy, he spent large amounts on military expansion in open preparation for war. Flynn quotes Professor Thomas A. Baily, a Roosevelt apologist:

"Roosevelt repeatedly deceived the American people during the period before Pearl Harbor...He was faced with a terrible dilemma. If he let the people slumber in a fog of isolation, they might well fall prey to Hitler. If he came out unequivocally for intervention, he would be defeated in 1940." (P. 297)

And Arthur M. Schlesinger. Jr. said this,

"If he (Roosevelt) was going to induce the people to move at all, Professor Belly concludes, he (Roosevelt) had no choice but to trick them into acting for what he conceived to be their best interests."


Few people today know that Roosevelt ran for President as a conservative. His first run for the office took place in the midst of a depression which Roosevelt promised to end. His cure was fiscal restraint and a balanced budget. Roosevelt decried the fiscal extravagance of the Hoover administration that was in office during the crash of 1929.

Yet it was Roosevelt who extended government power and spending. He subverted the policies of a government that heretofore had little intervention in business. He promoted the idea that government should take an active part in redistributing the wealth. He created massive government debt and, before his administration ended, spent more money than all previous Presidents combined.


The Banking crisis

Mr. Flynn's discussion of the U.S. Banking crisis of 1933 presents a startling view of the man who had just been elected to his first term as President. The crisis took place previous to and continued after Roosevelt's inauguration. After Roosevelt had won the election against Hoover, sensing that many people could be harmed by the crisis, President Hoover urged President-elect Roosevelt to support publicly a solution drafted by members of the Hoover administration. The matter was simply too urgent to be put off. Roosevelt, however, refused to act. He ignored Hoover's letters, and, when he did speak on the matter, put it off as a problem of the Hoover administration. This display of cheap partisan politics, revealed by a man who is today hailed as a great President is hard to believe. Yet, it seems, according to Flynn, that Roosevelt wanted as much blame put upon Hoover and the Republicans as was possible. To allow the banking crisis to ruin many businessmen would bury the Republicans in the eyes of the American public. The irony is that once Roosevelt took office he inaugurated a plan constructed largely by Hoover's staff; a plan which he explained to the American people in a fireside chat written, not by Roosevelt, but by Arthur Ballentine, Under-Secretary of the Treasury under Hoover.


Flynn characterizes Roosevelt as a man with little in the way of political philosophy. Indeed, Roosevelt was more a political opportunist, in a word, a pragmatist. His main concern was the obtaining of as many votes as possible. By his own admission, Roosevelt was "a Christian and a Democrat--that's all." If getting votes required an N.R.A., he would promote N.R.A. If it meant pandering to communists, he would pander to communists.

And indeed, he did.

Roosevelt's dabbling with Communists began in his first administration as an outgrowth of administration efforts to mobilize organized labor as a political force behind the new candidate. The union leaders who cooperated with Roosevelt in pursuit of expanded power and membership, brought communist organizers into their fold. This worked to the interest of Moscow who gave orders to their union agents in the U.S. to work in the A.F. of L. Their goal was to infiltrate the Labor Unions, to work within the system of labor organization in order to carry "out the policy of the class struggle in the trade unions..." After a split between the C.I.O. and the A.F. of L., the communists moved to the C.I.O., since it was the organization working to mobilize labor for Roosevelt.

After a time, John L. Lewis of the C.I.O. realized the danger of revolution in the labor movement and moved to eliminate communist influence in the unions. But Roosevelt, in his zeal for votes, saw no such danger.

The bulk of Roosevelt New Dealers, during his first years were not communists. They believed that the capitalist system was done for, but they did not advocate violent overthrow of the government. Primarily, they believed in a planned economy. Therefore, those communists who came in under the Roosevelt banner came in by way of the growing trend toward a planned economy. In fact, the planned economy was the idea that all statists united under. They soon discovered that Roosevelt was quite receptive to the idea.

Mrs. Roosevelt, of course, figures into the schemes of the communists, for it was she, as will be remembered, who frequented those circles where communists dwelt. It was she who fraternized with communists while Mr. Roosevelt stayed an easy distance away. It was she who held them in line under Mr. Roosevelt, inviting them to the White House, going to their meetings, and endorsing their front organizations.

In Mr. Roosevelt's first run for the Presidency, it was the communist voting blocks that put him over the top in New York, Illinois, Now Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Because Mr. Roosevelt was a pragmatic politician he felt it expedient to use the communists to his advantage. But the real question is: How did they use him?

When the Dies Committee began investigating the American Youth Congress, a communist group that had been befriended by Mrs. Roosevelt, Mr. Roosevelt sent for Martin Dies and told him to stop his investigation.

When the Un-American Activities Committee was investigating the American Youth Congress, a group of these adolescents marched into the committee room headed by none other than Mrs. Roosevelt. With Mrs. Roosevelt's approval, they made a general nuisance of themselves. The next day, Mrs. Roosevelt harshly criticized the Dies Committee and sent for one member of the committee. He was told to see to it that the American Youth Congress was not branded a Communist front organization.

Joe Lash was a guest of Mrs. Roosevelt's at the White House. Lash was the leader of the movement in the American Student Union inspired by the Communists to keep America on the pacifist side before the war. He was leading a group that did not want war against Russia or between Britain, France, and Germany. When Hitler invaded Russia this group repudiated their position and worked for American support of Russia. Later, Lash was secretary of the International Students Service under the sponsorship of Mrs. Roosevelt This man slept in Abraham Lincoln's bed at the White House.

The War was the main issue over which the communists took advantage of Roosevelt. They came in "droves" to Washington to advance their goals of assistance to Russia. They infiltrated the bureaucracy and were protected by the New Deal. They worked for the goals of Stalin. These communists, many of them foreign born, began waging their war, not only against Hitler, but also against anticommunists in the U.S. They deliberately sought to discredit, as pro-fascists, many who were merely anti-communists.

"All this was possible for one reason and one reason only- because the President of the United States countenanced these things, encourage them and in many cases sponsored them, not because he was a Communist or fascist or held definitely to any political system, but because at the moment they contributed to his own ambitions." (P. 331)


One of the vital pillars of our society is the system of checks and balances. It is designed to establish a political situation where in no one can get hold of power without being held in check by others in government. It is a system which enables us to fight the growth of tyranny.

That a President should make an open assault on this vital institution is itself an issue of moral default. Roosevelt, it seems, in total contempt for American institutions, tried to bring the court under his control by means of a bill that gave him the power to appoint a Supreme Court Justice for every member of the Court who had reached the age of 70 and refused to retire. This plan, "the boldest and most revolutionary any president had ever suggested..." was aimed at packing the Supreme Court with Roosevelt sympathizers who would stand behind him on many of his bills, the likes of which the N.R.A. and the A.A.A. had already been invalidated by the present court.

This plan was seen almost unanimously as a vile scheme, one without the slightest evidence of moral content. The President and his bill were soundly defeated in this mad attempt to set the seeds for dictatorship.

If what has been discussed in this report is shocking, it is nothing compared to the whole perspective on Roosevelt and his policies as presented by John T. Flynn in this brilliant analysis of a man whose image in the American memory is quite different from the man himself.

THE ROOSEVELT MYTH by John T. Flynn is published by Devin-Adair Co., New York. Out of print. Posted on 7/9/04

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