THE NATIONAL UNION FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE
Instead of making the world safe for democracy, the bells which tolled their message sixteen years ago this afternoon were sounding its requiem. Instead of announcing that here was the end of all war, we were being ushered into a new conflict too terrible to contemplate.
No nation and but few individuals have escaped the atrocities identified with the last sixteen years. Waste and destruction of property, the desolation of homes and farms, the decay of factories and industries, which are associated with this period through which we have passed, are beyond our reckoning. They were years when innocent civilians of all countries were bowed down by the regimented forces of greed, of selfishness, of crass ignorance and of obstinacy
Thus, it is almost with a cynical smile that we hope for peace when we recognize the feverish efforts of every great nation as they are busy manufacturing cannons and shells, war ships and lethal gases. The stage is being set for the last act of that tragedy which will mark the passing of a prostituted civilization unless our course is suddenly changed. Peace conferences and naval conferences failed miserably as did the hypocritical efforts of the League of Nations. In their laboratories of destruction the chemists of greed and of poverty, of hate and of lying propaganda are mingling their poisons of warfare. The old diplomacies, the ancient rivalries which were left wounded unto death upon the battle fields of Flanders today are rising in their ghostly forms to sound a new call to arms. To these menaces we are not blind. Their ghastly presence must not be ignored.
On this Sunday following the signal political victory of the new deal, perhaps, my friends, you are expectant to hear soft words of praise and glorification. I shall not be one, either today or at any future date, to break down your confidence in the outcome of this new deal. My constant prayer is for its success. Soft words and insincere praise, however, must have no more place at this present hour than had our empty rejoicing sixteen years ago. Thus, I wish to reassert my belief that, although the old Republican party with its rugged individualism is as dead as Benedict Arnold, nevertheless, it is true that the Democratic party, now composed of progressive men and women of all political affiliations, is merely on trial. Two years hence it will leave the courtroom of public opinion vindicated and with a new lease on life, or will be condemned to political death if it fails to answer the simple question of why there is want in the midst of plenty.
Truly, democracy itself is on trial. It has been given the final mandate to face the real causes of this depression and to end them instead of temporizing with useless efforts for the preservation of a system, both economic and political, which once before watered the fields of Europe with blood and the highways of America with tears.
Today the American people are the judge and jury who will support this Administration and accord it a sportman's chance to make good. It has already subscribed to the principle that human rights must take precedence over financial rights. It recognizes that these rights far outweigh in the scales of justice either political rights or so-called constitutional rights. It appears to be an Administration determined to read into the Constitution the definition of social justice which is already expressed within its very preamble. There we are taught that the object of this Government is to establish justice, to insure domestic tranquility, to promote the general welfare and to provide the blessings of liberty for ourselves and for our posterity.
The task confronting this government consists first, in recognizing and utilizing this constitutional truth; and second, in eliminating and destroying, once and for all, the well known and well established unconstitutional causes of this depression. This afternoon I plan to address you on its first cause viewed from a material standpoint.
This has to do with a just and living annual wage for all citizens who care to earn their own livelihood. I will deal with the substantial error associated with modern industrialism--an error which, if not eradicated, will logically lead us into the perpetuation of the dole system and thence into communism. After all, the economic analysis of communism teaches us that the State is absolutely supreme; is absolute master and proprietor of all material goods; is the sole industrialist and capitalist, and its citizens are the recipients of chocolate coated doles. Communism is nothing more than a candied pill of glorified "doleism."
Thus, at the outset of this discussion, let me rehearse for you a few facts relative to the history of labor and of industry, of production and of unemployment. As we turn back the pages which tell us the story of the World War, we are convinced that it was one organized and operated for commercial purposes and commercial gains. Every cannon forged, every shell exploded was trade-marked with the sign of decadent capitalism. It was a war fought to make the world safe for Wall Street and for the international bankers.
Are you not aware of the fact that in 1914 England's financial and commercial supremacy were in jeopardy due to the rapid advance of German commerce? Are you ignorant of the fact that during the first two years of the World War the United States industrialists and bankers had poured billions of credit dollars into the war chests of Great Britain? Need I remind you of the pleading on the part of English statesmen for us to enter the war or of the letters sent by Ambassador Page to President Wilson demanding that we should join the allies for the sole reason of preserving our bankers' foreign investments--bankers, who in league with England, had wagered on the losing horse; powerful bankers who, in a few months after the outbreak of hostilities, perverted the mind of President Wilson to such an extent that, although elected to his high office on the promise of keeping us out of the war, he now submitted to the fallacy that it was more sacred to protect the capitalistic dollar than to preserve the life of a mother's son!
The years in which all this was happening were identified with the date when the monstrous dragon of want had been slain by the new St. George of modern scientific machinery. Before the advent of the World War we were not troubled with the problem of unemployment. Eighteen or twenty years ago industry was well operated under a system of economics devised for the upkeep of a civilization which, until then; was engaged in solving the problem of production. With our clumsy machinery and unskilled mechanics we could not produce enough shoes, bath tubs, locomotives, motor cars or, for that matter, any other mass production commodity to supply the practical demands of a world which was still struggling to free itself from the deprivations of the past. By 1914 Watt and his steam engine, Edison and his electric motor and the thousand inventors who followed them had not completely conquered the problem of want in the midst of need--the problem of production.
Now what has all this to do with the World War of 1914 and with the present depression which was born in 1918? Be patient for a moment and I shall try to weave a few thoughts relative to this subject into a simple fabric of understanding.
For the first two years of the war we found practically the full manpower of France, of England, of Italy, of Belgium and of the European allies clothed in the uniforms of soldiers. This meant that the flower of European youth ceased to be producers. This meant that suddenly the production power of Europe was perverted into a force of destruction.
Meanwhile America was called upon to supply wheat and corn, pork and cotton, food and wearing apparel not only for these 10-million allied soldiers but also for their wives and children and fellow citizens who remained at home--citizens who were not so much engaged in farming and in producing the demands of a peaceful life--but regimented citizens who were occupied in manufacturing shrapnel and bullets, rifles and munitions. These, too, must be cared for, at least in part, by American labor and agriculture.
Perhaps mathematical, official figures are more eloquent than words to amplify this statement.
In 1912, even while preparations for the World War were going on in Europe, we exported less than $1-billion worth of goods. In 1915 our exports amounted to more than $2-billion. Nineteen hundred and sixteen saw this rise to practically $4-billion. This figure of $4-billion held good for the years 1917 and 1918. When the war ceased our exports to Europe dropped below the $1-billion mark--$849,762,607 for 1933 to be exact; For 1934, ending with September, our exports were only $696,620,471.
During this period of bloated exportation which was identified with the World War, several substantial effects are to be noted. We in America passed from the normalcy of 1914 production into the abnormalcy of 1916 and 1918 production and accomplished twice as much work with millions of fewer laborers! As a matter of fact we had 4-million soldiers and sailors actually subtracted from our farms and factories, from our trade and commerce. These men were not only non-producers. They were occupied with destruction and not with production. They, as well as their non-producing wives and children, had to be cared for. Thus, approximately 30-million men, at the most, were engaged here in America to produce the ordinary necessities and conveniences for the United States as well as clothing and foodstuffs, munitions, and battleships for a great portion of the allied forces and allied citizens. Handicapped though we were with a shortage of help in our factories and in our fields, I repeat, that in 1918 we were forced to produce more than twice as much as we did in 1913.
Now if fewer men, both farmers and mechanics, kept both America and a great part of Europe supplied with foodstuffs and with war materials during this period of artificial prosperity while the flower of America and of the allied youth was busied with destruction, how was this accomplished?
Well, naturally, these were days when unemployment was unheard of. But more than that these were days when the disciples of Watt and Edison so perfected steam and electricity, when the scientists and engineers so perfected the lathe and mass production machinery that, between the years of 1914 and 1918, we find science and engineering making it possible for one man to do the work of approximately two and one-half men.
Keep that fact in mind as you turn your calendar to the date of November 11, 1918! Armistice Day--the day when there was born from the womb of war the new problem of distribution.
That was the day when the soldiers and sailors began to return to their respective homes. That was the day when Europe's task, at least from an economic viewpoint, was to resume producing for herself without the help of America. We, in this country, were expected to return to normal housekeeping. But when more than 4-million soldiers and sailors came back to our shores seeking employment they found young girls and married women occupying positions in office and in factory. More than that, they discovered mass production machinery so perfected that no longer was it possible to continue with the same program of production in 1919 as had been in vogue in 1914.
These were the facts which confronted the so-called statesmen in 1920. They were the known facts which maliciously and purposely were avoided as Wall Street, which had long since moved into the Treasury Department, launched a program of credit inflation at home and of bond inflation abroad hoping to stimulate European purchasing by post war loans. Wall Street, which owned almost all the industries, was determined to keep itself going. They were loans made in the shape of credit notes--not in actual dollars. They were loans made with bankers' checks which were expected to be repaid in ounces of gold. More than that, they were loans made upon the presumption that European factories would remain idle and that European people would buy American goods.
Of this insane practice, which necessarily dug itself into the trenches of repudiation, I shall speak to you on a following Sunday. But for the time being I shall not digress from the labor, the unemployment, the industrial problem.
When we weave together the threads which the loom of fact has so clearly fabricated, to what conclusions are we forced as we view the labor situation between 1919 and 1929?
First: Unemployment on a huge scale was an absolute certainty, if we still held to the proposition that a laborer should be paid 50 cents an hour while he worked and then be left to seek refuge in a dole line until the motor cars, the locomotives, the shoes and other products of a factory were being consumed.
Second: The theory that production for a profit existed for industrialists and stockholders only, and not for laborers and mechanics, was no longer tenable. If laborers were required to work only six or eight months in the year under a wage scale that paid them while they worked and starved them while they were idle, then a new annual wage scale must be adopted.
This, then, was no depression. It simply marked the end of an era where man's problem was formerly one of production. It announced the birth of a new era where henceforth our problem shall be one of distribution of the profits not only to the owners and stockholders but also to the laborers and mechanics, enabling all to live prosperously even when the wheels of industry have ceased operating.
Now let me speak about this problem of distribution which we must solve within the next two years or else witness a new form of government that will face it and attempt to solve it by some communistic means.
As far as production is concerned, we have more acreage under cultivation, more factories equipped with the finest machinery, more educated scientists and skilled mechanics than any other nation in all history. Our struggle against the blind forces of destructive nature, as well as against the ignorance of the past, has been successful. The Great War has driven in and riveted down this nail of progress so firmly that no longer shall there be want in the midst of need. Today there is want in the midst of plenty.
Before speaking further about the distribution of wealth may I be emphatic in my opposition to the philosophy of destructionism or of sabotage. To all purposes destructionism says: "Let us go back to the year 1900 or to the year 1850. Let us take land out of cultivation. Let us destroy pigs and cotton and wheat and corn."
If that philosophy were logical, it would also say: "Let us destroy one out of every three automobile plants; permanently lock the doors of one out of every three steel mills; burn down half our textile factories; food one-third of all our coal mines and pay a bounty to every Dillinger and desperado for removing scientists from our universities."
It is the philosophy which refuses to face the problem of distribution. It is the philosophy which is attempting to hold us manacled to an obsolete system of finance and of production for a profit only. It is the final attempt on the part of a decadent capitalism to destroy us into prosperity. It is similar to the program of the bankers who, for ten years following the war, attempted to bond us with paper into gold prosperity.
Now, my friends, let no one deceive you with the economic lie that there is over-production when millions are hungry, when millions more are in the bread line and when 16-million homes in America are deprived of the ordinary conveniences of life--running water, modern plumbing, electricity and modern heat,
There is simply a lack of distribution.
Distribution of wealth is substantially associated with the problem of money--with the problem of 50 cents an hour while you work and the soup line while you are idle; with the problem of a destroyed purchasing power; with the problem of organized doles and disorganized taxation; with the problem of impending communism.
If there is plenty for all in this country--plenty of fields of wheat and of cotton, plenty of factories, mechanics and scientists--the only reason why this plenitude of God's blessing is not shared by all is because our Government has not, as yet, faced the problem of distribution. In other words, it may boast that it has driven the money changers from the temple but it permits industry to cling tenaciously to the cast-off philosophy of the money changers. Our Government still upholds one of the worst evils of decadent capitalism, namely, that production must be only at a profit for the owners, for the capitalist, and not for the laborer. This philosophy of finance, or of distribution of profits, based on the theory of "pay-while-you-work" for the laborer can only be identified with destruction of the entire system of capitalism.
Were I addressing a group of industrialists I would inquire of them whether or not they were of the opinion that this technical unemployment--an unemployment brought about by the scientific development of machinery and of men--could continue. Surely, they must recognize that industrial competition must produce newer inventions, newer machinery and longer bread lines.
I would ask the industrialists whether or not they and their children could logically anticipate a time in the not distant future when they will become targets for the wrath of a despoiled people. Do they not remember the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution ? Do they know that human nature does not change?
I would plead with them, for their own self-preservation, if for no other reason, to cooperate with the Government as it will move, we hope, towards the shortening of hours for all engaged in mass production activity and towards an annual wage system that is just and equitable and thus permit American workmen to preserve the American standard of living.
The annual wage shall not be one that will permit us merely to subsist. It must be one that will keep us on the level of the American standard of living. That is why our foreparents forsook Europe to come to America. That is what we and our children shall fight for.
By no means shall we despairingly admit that all is lost. All is not lost if we only have the courage to adopt the policy of producing for use at a profit for all--the owner and the laborer.
Indeed, we must find room in the ranks of agriculture, of science, of art and of labor for every American citizen who wishes to earn his livelihood and retain his self-respect. We can ill afford to have 12-million men, 2-million women and well over 2-million never employed youths in this nation idle and angry. From a practical standpoint, I repeat, their number will increase in proportion as our science is perfected. From a practical standpoint, they and the millions, who will gradually be added to their ranks, will become unable to share the tax burden of this nation--a burden which ultimately will mean the breakdown of government and the confiscation of all industry and the communizing of property.
You industrialists, surrounded as you are by your economists are anxious to form organizations for the protection of your property rights and for the perpetuation of your profit system. But, may I ask you, of what value are property rights unless they are firmly established upon the sanctity of human rights?
Are those of you who own and control wealth ignorant of the fact that labor owes no rights to capital unless capital performs its duty towards labor?
Are you forgetful, ye princes of this world's goods, that you are no better than stewards designated to manage justly and fairly the property of this world which belongs not to you but to the God who created you?
In the event of strikes produced under an unjust economic system where men are forced to starve because there is no work at a profit for the owner, are you men foolish enough to think that the moral law of God shall force the working men to disobey the first command of all--the command of self-preservation--and follow, in its stead, your man-made precept of property preservation ?
Are you so misguided by your advisers as to believe that, because you own a factory, or a bank, or a fortune, you can use it as you will to the detriment of the common good?
And on this Armistice Day, when the murmurings of discontent are rumbling throughout the capitals of this world, when armies are being marshaled and new cannons forged, are you so bereft of reason as to think for a moment that the men and women, whom your system has starved for five long years, will shoulder arms to protect your rights and your property and your rotten policies?
Modern capitalism is destroying itself at both ends. It speaks to the youth of the nation with this bright sentence: "You are inexperienced. We do not want you." To the matured laborers in industry who are forty-five years of age, it says: "You must retire simply because the compensation insurance rate is too high for us and the insurance companies of this nation do not care to risk you."
There are 21-million boys and girls in our public school system. Approximately 1-million in our colleges and universities soon will be knocking at your doors for employment. For the older ones you will try to rewrite the natural law of God as you preach to them the reasonableness of birth control when you really mean the godlessness of wealth control.
"Increase and multiply" was the command of God--a command that has been sterilized in the heart of every thinking young man who dares not marry because he dares not inflict poverty upon his children.
And this in a nation where the birth rate and the death rate are sparring for supremacy; this in a nation that dares not invite the immigrant to enter because already there is too much unemployment!
Yes, "increase and multiply" was the command which echoed over the flowering fields and the towering forests. It was heard in the sheep-folds and on the pasture-lands. It broke forth in holy emotions as lovers clasped in fond embrace.
"Increase and multiply and I shall kiss your fields with the lips of the sun and water them with the fountains of rain. I will unfold to you the secrets of nature. And I shall teach your nimble fingers to work and labor as I do the wings of a bird to fly."
Oh! how this Sacred Scripture has become perverted as, in the midst of plenty, we struggle to create want--we struggle to create profits--all for the purpose of perpetuating a slavery which has been so often described as the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few!
My friends, the outworn creed of capitalism is done for. The clarion call of communism has been sounded. I can support one as easily as the other. They are both rotten! But it is not necessary to suffer any longer the slings and arrows of modern capitalism any more than it is to surrender our rights to life, to liberty and to the cherished bonds of family to communism.
The high priests of capitalism bid us beware of the radical and call upon us to expel him from our midst. There will be no expulsion of radicals until the causes which breed radicals will first be destroyed!
The apostles of Lenin and Trotsky bid us forsake all rights to private ownership and ask us to surrender our liberty for that mess of pottage labeled "prosperity," while it summons us to worship at the altar where a dictator of flesh and blood is enthroned as our god and the citizens are branded as his slaves.
Away with both of them! But never into the discard with the liberties which we have already won and the economic liberty which we are about to win--or die in the attempt!
My friends, I have spent many hours during these past two weeks--hours, far into the night, reading thousands of letters which have come to my office from the young folks and the old folks of this nation. I believe that in them I possess the greatest human document written within our times.
I am not boasting when I say to you that I know the pulse of the people. I know it better than all your newspaper men. I know it better than do all your industrialists with your paid-for advice. I am not exaggerating when I tell you of their demand for social justice which, like a tidal wave, is sweeping over this nation.
Nor am I happy to think that, through my broadcasts, I have placed myself today in a position to accept the challenge which these letters carry to me--a challenge for me to organize these men and women of all classes not for the protection of property rights as does the American Liberty League; not for the protection of political spoils as do the henchmen of the Republican or Democratic parties. Away with them too!
But, happy or unhappy as I am in my position, I accept the challenge to organize for obtaining, for securing and for protecting the principles of social justice.
To organize for action, if you will! To organize for social united action which will be founded on God-given social truths which belong to Catholic and Protestant, to Jew and Gentile, to black and white, to rich and poor, to industrialist and to laborer.
I realize that I am more or less a voice crying in the wilderness. I realize that the doctrine which I preach is disliked and condemned by the princes of wealth. What care I for that! And, more than all else, I deeply appreciate how limited are my qualifications to launch this organization which shall be known as the NATIONAL UNION FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE.
But the die is cast! The word has been spoken! And by it I am prepared either to stand or to fall; to fall, if needs be, and thus, to be remembered as an arrant upstart who succeeded in doing nothing more than stirring up the people.
How shall we organize? To what principles of social justice shall we pledge ourselves ? What action shall we take? These are practical questions which I ask myself as I recognize the fact that this NATIONAL UNION FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE must be established in every county and city and town in these United States of America.
It is for the youth of the nation. It is for the brains of the nation. It is for the farmers of the nation. It is for everyone in the nation.
Establishing my principles upon this preamble, namely, that we are creatures of a beneficent God, made to love and to serve Him in this world and to enjoy Him forever in the next; that all this world's wealth of field, of forest, of mine and of river has been bestowed upon us by a kind Father, therefore I believe that wealth, as we know it, originates from natural resources and from the labor which the children of God expend upon these resources. It is all ours except for the harsh, cruel and grasping ways of wicked men who first concentrated wealth into the hands of a few, then dominated states, and finally commenced to pit state against state in the frightful catastrophes of commercial warfare.
Following this preamble, these shall be the principles of social justice towards the realization of which we must strive:
1. I believe in liberty of conscience and liberty of education, not permitting the state to dictate either my worship to my God or my chosen avocation in life.
2. I believe that every citizen willing to work and capable of working shall receive a just, living, annual wage which will enable him both to maintain and educate his family according to the standards of American decency.
3. I believe in nationalizing those public resources which by their very nature are too important to be held in the control of private individuals.
4. I believe in private ownership of all other property.
5. I believe in upholding the right to private property but in controlling it for the public good.
6. I believe in the abolition of the privately owned Federal Reserve Banking system and in the establishment of a Government owned Central Bank.
7. I believe in rescuing from the hands of private owners the right to coin and regulate the value of money, which right must be restored to Congress where it belongs.
8. I believe that one of the chief duties of this Government owned Central Bank is to maintain the cost of living on an even keel and arrange for the repayment of dollar debts with equal value dollars.
9. I believe in the cost of production plus a fair profit for the farmer.
10. I believe not only in the right of the laboring man to organize in unions but also in the duty of the Government, which that laboring man supports, to protect these organizations against the vested interests of wealth and of intellect.
11. I believe in the recall of all non-productive bonds and therefore in the alleviation of taxation.
12. I believe in the abolition of tax-exempt bonds.
13. I believe in broadening the base of taxation according to the principles of ownership and the capacity to pay.
14. I believe in the simplification of government and the further lifting of crushing taxation from the slender revenues of the laboring class.
15. I believe that, in the event of a war for the defense of our nation and its liberties, there shall be a conscription of wealth as well as a conscription of men.
16. I believe in preferring the sanctity of human rights to the sanctity of property rights; for the chief concern of government shall be for the poor because, as it is witnessed, the rich have ample means of their own to care for themselves.
These are my beliefs. These are the fundamentals of the organization which I present to you under the name of the NATIONAL UNION FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE. It is your privilege to reject or to accept my beliefs; to follow me or to repudiate me.
Hitherto you have been merely an audience. Today, in accepting the challenge of your letters, I call upon everyone of you who is weary of drinking the bitter vinegar of sordid capitalism and upon everyone who is fearsome of being nailed to the cross of communism to join this Union which, if it is to succeed, must rise above the concept of an audience and become a living, vibrant, united, active organization, superior to politics and politicians in principle, and independent of them in power.
This work cannot be accomplished in one week or two weeks or in three months, perchance. But it must begin today, at this moment. It shall be a Union for the employed and the unemployed, for the old and the young, for the rich and the poor, independent of race, color or creed. It is my answer to the challenge received from the youth of the nation; my answer to those who have dared me to act!
All I ask of you today is that you voluntarily subscribe your name to this Union. In addressing your letter to me, please be careful to note well the county in which you live as well as the State. Information will be sent to you for your organization within your own county and your own district.
Tremendous opposition will be aroused against us. Obstacles will be thrown in our path to prevent our success. Every public utility shall besiege us. But all of those who still wish to leave behind them a better country than they found are invited today and this week to unite their hearts and minds for the establishment of social justice.
I have spoken to some of you for nine years over this microphone and to most of you for more than three years.
Today I call upon you to assemble your ranks for action. Thus, in the name of the God of our fathers, we can look forward to better days to come. But without His principles of justice and of charity reduced into practice there is little hope either for ourselves or for the children who will follow us.
There are no fees being exacted from you to belong to this NATIONAL UNION FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE. I am not in it for the commercial profit, because I am talking to the poor, talking to the dispossessed, talking to the jobless and talking against those who possess the means to sustain this broadcast. It will be supported by the voluntary offerings of those who can afford to support it.
In this Union fear no man, employer or employee. For in this crusade we cannot rise to a realization of the principles of social justice without the unremitting and sacrificing toil on the part of all our members.
Do not entertain the thought that, because you are a housewife engaged in your daily duties, a student at his books, an unemployed person, a nun in a convent, a hobo in the jungle or an industrialist in the seat of the mighty, your moral support in this Union is not welcome. All I ask is that those who apply for membership will be men and women of courageous heart and intrepid spirit willing and ready to suffer.
God wills it!
This is the new call to arms--not to become cannon fodder for the greedy system of an outworn capitalism nor factory fodder for the slave whip of communism.
This is the new call to arms for the establishment of social justice!
God wills it! Do you?
PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT AND SOCIAL JUSTICE!
In clear-cut phrases he delivered an official statement of policy which committed both himself and this Seventy-fourth Congress to the deep, spiritual philosophy of Christian charity and social justice. With a prayer of divine guidance on his lips, with a recognition of God's providence in his mind, he disassociated both himself and the American people from atheistic communism, from Fascism and Hitlerism
January fourth, 1935, brings to an end the economic principles of individualism hitherto taught, practically in every American university.
It is the date which marks the termination of certain of those principles taught by Adam Smith, by John Stuart Mill and Malthus. Such outworn and impractical economic phrases as "free competition, and "rugged individualism" and "laissez-faire" today are seeking a resting place in the limbo of archaic falsehoods.
Without compromise, without pussyfooting, the President covered the humane philosophical principles which centuries ago were sounded on Sinai's mountain top and of old were echoed on the hillsides where Christ preached His Gospel of brotherhood.
Thus, today, the members of the National Union for Social Justice can rejoice, while the avowed opponents of human rights-- the Liberty Leaguers, the United States Chamber of Commerce members, the Manufacturers Association--can find scant consolation as their programs for doles, for balanced budgets, for gold standards, for free rein in the industrial field are indirectly consigned to the wastepaper basket of ancient history.
Let them heed the words of the President that "we have undertaken a new order of things." Let them be cautious, henceforth, because only at their own personal peril will they dare obstruct the rising of this sun of social justice which will not set until the new economic system will have been perfected.
To those of you whose misfortune it was neither to have heard nor read this Presidential message, may I quote from it and comment upon its salient passages.
1. In speaking of the new order of things, Mr. Roosevelt said: "We progress towards it under the framework and in the spirit and intent of the American Constitution." This means that we are still Americans--in fact, that we will become better Americans than ever--as we will hold fast to our democratic traditions and to our republican institutions. The phrase, "spirit and intent of the Constitution" is important--more important than if it read "the letter and the legal interpretation of the Constitution." I need not remind you that "the letter oftentimes killeth, while the spirit maketh to live," as the Scripture says. I need not rehearse for you the deeds and misdeeds perpetrated in the name of the cruel letter of a man-made code of laws which was written primarily for the protection of property rights and only incidentally for the safe-guarding of human rights.
2. Well did our President say that: "Throughout the world, change is the order of the day. In every nation economic problems, long in the making, have brought crises of many kinds for which the masters of old practice and theory were unprepared. In most nations social justice, no longer a distant ideal', has become a definite goal, and ancient governments are beginning to heed the call."
If, on many past occasions, I was prompted to criticize, to castigate and sometimes to whip with the lash of words these masters of an old practice which was cruel, hard and impossible to bear, I glory in the cause which I espoused. For many years it was evident that social justice should replace the practices of modern capitalism; that the doctrine of exploitation should be relegated to the same graveyard where rots the corpse of feudalism, that the theory of exploitation should take its place with the theory of slavery; and that the teaching of social justice, which distinguishes between the right to own and the right to use, should replace the Bourbon teaching which identified these two rights and thereby permitted the owner to use his goods to suit his own selfish purposes.
At last the day for social justice has had a hearing in the courts of progress. At last we recognize that the God Who created US gave us this earth and the fullness thereof to sustain us, that He intended thereby that what He gave us for our sustenance should not be stolen from us by a little group of individuals who had succeeded in placing a fence of "better-than-thou-ism" around the world, placarding it with the sign "Thou shalt not enter!", thus forcing countless numbers into destitution and into the bondage of economic slavery.
The millions of members of the National Union for Social Justice are deeply indebted to our President for this statement as are the millions of Americans, who long since have learned that there was no justice for the multitudes under the out-worn system of modern capitalism.
3. The President is no optimist. Even his bitterest critics must admit that he is a realist when they meditate upon the following words: "We find," said he, "our population suffering from old inequalities, little changed by past sporadic remedies. In spite of our efforts and in spite of our talk, we have not weeded out the over-privileged and we have not effectively lifted up the underprivileged. Both of these manifestations of injustice leave retarded happiness."
Here is an honest act of contrition. For two years Mr. Roosevelt was so conservative that he gave ear to those men whose policies were most responsible for effecting the depression. Modern capitalism with its gold standard, its private control of currency and credit, its privately owned Federal Reserve banks and many other trappings, was suffered to continue alongside the emergency relief which was expended upon a down-trodden people. Even this emergency relief was financed by the private bankers.
All this was honest experimentation which resulted in seventeen millions or more citizens becoming recipients of a national dole, in our national debt being increased by billions of dollars, and in our bankers waxing rich as they battened off the interest money resultant from our endeavors of trying to borrow ourselves out of debt with privately manufactured bankers' dollars.
No wonder we did not weed out the over-privileged! No wonder that we did not effectively lift up the underprivileged! The task was impossible as long as the tool for its performance was the system of modern capitalism.
These were two years of bitter verbal conflict. Two years which served as a proving ground, a laboratory. Two years expended in giving a sportman's chance to the corporate body of modern capitalists to rise to the occasion. Two years in which they proved to civilization that their economic system, their financial system, their entire fabric of philosophy were so dissipated and inefficient that the naked facts which confront us today cry out for reform.
4. No wonder Mr. Roosevelt adds that, at this moment, "We have a clear mandate from the people, that Americans must forswear that conception of the acquisition of wealth which, through excessive profits, creates undue private power over private affairs and, to our misfortune, over public affairs as well."
What is the conception of the acquisition of wealth to which the people are opposed? In one sense it is related to the practice of industrialists paying their workmen only while they work and starving them while they are idle. In another sense it is related to paying dividends to stockholders all year round whether or not the wheels in the factory are busy; whether or not there is an annual wage for the laborer.
In the more important sense, it is essentially related to the banker who gained control over industry. How did he gain this control over industry? Need I repeat what I have already told you, namely, that in the year 1929, at the peak of prosperity, there were 30 per cent fewer industries in this country than there were ten years before it? This was due to the immorality of our private credit system which permits the banker, who takes your one honest currency dollar deposited with him, to create on his legalized printing press at least nine other fictitious dollars, credit dollars. These credit dollars he loaned to the industrialist who needed money to carry on his business. To secure the loan, the industrialist mortgaged his property with the banker. Billions of such credit dollars were scattered throughout the nation. At least nine times more credit dollars were expected to be paid back to the banker than there was actual currency or real dollars in existence. When the loans became due the currency dollars were non-existent. Consequently the banker took over the property of the industrialist, amalgamated it with other factories and began to build up his monopoly, counter to the best interests of this nation. That is how, as on a former occasion I pointed out to you, the J.P. Morgan and Company control $40-billion of American industry, banking, insurance and other activities in this nation. It was due to this private issuance of credit that such a thing as unjust competition was permitted to run rampant.
All during this period, while the bankers enjoyed the power of issuing credit, they also held control over the actual currency dollars. These they kept scarce. By keeping them scarce they were simply playing the game of a cat watching a mouse--watching the borrower--who eventually would fall into his trap and be forced to surrender his property. Thus, through the existence of an immoral law which is counter to the letter and to the spirit of the American Constitution, Alexander Hamilton and his successors in office were responsible for handing over to a small group of individuals, of parasites who did not produce but who lived upon the labors of others, this control of money which enabled them, in days of prosperity, to grow fat upon interest and, in the days of depression, to grow fatter upon confiscations.
Until a few months ago this mystery of money was a secret which was safeguarded by the international bankers of the world and their hired puppets throughout every nation. But now that the veil has been removed, there goes forth a mandate from the American people calling a halt to this practice.
5. In this nation there is ample room for everyone to profit according to his merit provided he is willing to work. Henceforth our national motto shall be "security for all." Henceforth our laws will be so written and so executed that financial privileges for the few shall disappear. This is what is meant when Mr. Roosevelt said: "Among our objectives I place the security of the men, women and children of the Nation first."
These words indicate the philosophy which will guide our President during his tenure of office. It is the philosophy of social justice which is about to vanquish the sophistry of greed and of individualism.
Upon the attainment of this objective Mr. Roosevelt is willing to stand or fall.
6. Let us inspect the proposed policies by which that philosophy of security can be put into practice. First and foremost Mr. Roosevelt plans to develop our natural resources. He said:
"A study of our National resources more comprehensive than any previously made, slows the vast amount of necessary and practicable work which needs to be done for the development and preservation of our natural wealth, for the enjoyment and advantage of our people in generations to come. The sound use of land and water is far more comprehensive than the mere planting of trees, building of dams, distributing of electricity or retirement of sub-marginal land. It recognizes that stranded populations, either in the country or the city, cannot have security under the conditions that now surround them.
"To this end we are ready to begin to meet this problem--the intelligent care of population throughout our Nation, in accordance with an intelligent distribution of the means of livelihood for that population. A definite program for putting people to work, of which I shall speak in a moment, is a component part of this greater program of security of livelihood through the better use of our National resources."
In my interpretation of this statement there is hereby launched a program for permanent public works. At last we have an official pronouncement that gold is not wealth; that the real wealth of the nation, from a material standpoint, is identified with the homes, the farms, the forests, the developed waterways and highways which we can and will arrange for the benefit of future generations.
This policy is sensible insofar as it is designed to take up the slack of unemployment which necessarily and increasingly results and will continue to result from our development of mass production machinery. It recognizes that stranded populations, either in the country or the city, cannot have security under the conditions that now surround them. Thus a program of public works will be devised by which our hitherto idle population will have an opportunity to earn its livelihood on the basis of a just wage. It dares not be less than a living wage. This wage, however, will not necessarily be commensurate with the wage paid by industry. Henceforth the industrial wage must be predicated upon a new division of the profits, a new share in the goods produced.
As soon as the produced goods of the factory will have been consumed or used, those engaged on the public works program will find a place for their labors in the factories. On the off-season they will return to their road building, to their reforestation, to their slum clearances. This means the end of the unscientific and uncivilized dole system. This means the beginning of a new wealth for the future generations of America.
There is one point which Mr. Roosevelt did not clarify. It is associated with the money to be employed in our permanent public works program. It is associated with the over-privileged banking classes and with either their perpetuation as such or the destruction of their over-privileges as such.
Last Sunday I had occasion to explain to this audience a few facts relative to the nature of money. The only thing mysterious with money was definitely related to the fact that for every valid dollar bill which a depositor places for safe-keeping in a bank, the banker proceeds to lend it ten times. With each loan he marks down on his books that these ten dollars have been deposited when, as a matter of fact, they were never deposited but were loaned. The only thing that was deposited besides the solitary dollar was a mortgage for your home or your farm or your business.
I pointed out that the financial picture which is presented to you in America today shows, on the one hand, no more than 1 billion real dollars deposited in the banks. But the bankers advertise in their statements that they have approximately $30 billion on deposit. This means that when the proper date comes around on the calendar for your mortgage to fall due, or for all the mortgages in the country to fall due, the bankers, who are the manufacturers of money, demand payment in currency, in real dollars. Of course, this is impossible because real dollars to that amount do not exist, there being no more than 5 billion currency dollars extant in the nation. In this way, through the privilege accorded the bankers, they are lawfully permitted to seize the real wealth of the nation because it is impossible for the citizens of the nation to pay back the bankers in currency when only credit was borrowed.
That is the mystery surrounding money, namely, that bankers reap where they do not sow, or, at least, they reap wheat where they sowed cockle.
All this has a bearing on the point which Mr. Roosevelt failed to incorporate in his message to Congress last Friday.
Here is where it affects you, my fellow citizens. Shall Mr. Roosevelt use bankers' credit money to conduct the program of permanent public works or will he be courageous enough to revert to the Constitution which he loves and which he has sworn to uphold--the Constitution which says plainly and unequivocally, "Congress has the right to coin and to regulate the value of money"
You ask me what difference it makes? May I tell you with emphasis and with clarity what difference it makes.
During the past two years our present Administration has borrowed approximately $8-billion from the bankers. It was used partially for public works, partially for paying men to pick up leaves, partially to sustain a questionable dole system. It was $3-million of relief which we, the taxpayers, contributed for the sustenance of the destitute. It was $8-billion of credit money, of manufactured money, of fictitious money which never did exist in real currency. Eventually we and our children must pay back to the bankers that $8-billion not with credit money but with real currency money.
Besides paying them back the borrowed $8 billion we are obligated also to pay them back $6,400,000,000 for interest, making a grand total of $14,400,000,000 which the taxpayers must produce in real currency that does not exist when these bonds and notes issued by our present Administration mature. In other words, we have mortgaged the United States to the bankers. We have contracted to pay them $14,400,000,000 on the $8 billion we have borrowed.
It is impossible to fulfill this contract because there are no more than 5 billion real currency dollars in existence in our country. This means that when the date of maturity arrives for these mortgages and bonds the bankers will own the United States of America, its homes, its farms and forests and fields.
This is their legal right, namely, to confiscate, at least in part, the United States of America. This the present law guarantees.
May I anticipate the objection which the bankers make to this statement--a statement that they cannot deny.
They will tell us that these bonds and notes will be refinanced!
What does this mean? It merely means that we will continue paying interest for generation upon generation. It means that we will keep them living in luxury, in their over-privileged palaces, in their Palm Beach residences, in their Scottish hunting lodges, because, Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury, and his successors, permitted men of flesh and blood, the same as you and I, to create wealth, to counterfeit money, to manufacture credit, only through the grace of a fountain pen and a piece of gilded paper!
Thus, if our proposed program for permanent public works will be launched through the agency of bankers' money it means that the five or even ten billion dollars which will be used to reclaim marginal lands, to destroy slums, to build homes, to prevent erosion, to plant trees will sustain the over-privileged banker. It means that, eventually, our generation and the succeeding generations will be working under the fiction of a new deal for the benefit of the privileged classes. The reality of a New Deal will be absent.
Throughout the ages, classes became privileged only because they controlled the wealth of a nation, only because they made either physical or political or economic slaves of their fellow citizens. It was true with the Romans under Caesar Augustus and his millions of slaves. It was true with the baronial lords who lived the lives of leisure while the tenants upon their princely estates lived the lives of serfs. It is still true in America through the grace of an Alexander Hamilton and the plutocrats who followed him. The privileged classes of money manufacturers gained control of the lands, of the homes, of the industries and of the government itself in this country due to no other reason than to the fact that they have controlled the issuance of credit and thereby, the legal right that the borrower pays back in currency when these bankers have kept currency money scarce.
The very heart and soul, the motor of the new deal is the money question. Unless their constitutional privilege is removed from the bankers; unless their purple fountain pens are emptied and it be legislated that it is as illegal for them to create money as it is for you and for me to counterfeit it: unless this Congress has the fortitude and the sagacity to reclaim for itself the right and the duty to coin and regulate our money, the new deal will remain as a noble but unsuccessful experiment on the part of man to destroy the worst brand of slavery that was ever perpetrated!
What is my suggestion relative to the kind of money which should be used for public works? In plain language it is this. If we borrow $8 billion from the bankers it means that eventually we must repay them $14,400 million including the interest. We have simply created a debt. This debt exists in the nature of bonds, of paper blessed by the printing press!
If the government itself prints $8 billion of greenbacks, differing only in color from the bonds which are yellow backs and to which coupons are attached, this $8 billion is also a debt. Like the bond, it is born on the bed of a printing press. Like the bond it is headed for the graveyard of maturity.
Need I ask which is the sounder debt? Or, which is more inflationary? There is only one answer to these questions, because most certainly $14,400,000,000 is more inflationary and less sound than the $8 billion backed by the gold in the Treasury.
There is no mystery about this any more than there is a mystery why two and two are four. The only mystery consists in endeavoring to make two and two equal five, or to say that 14,400,000,000 is less inflationary than $8-billion.
My friends, there is no one who wishes this new deal to succeed more than do I. Thus, more than a year ago I coined the phrase, "Roosevelt or Ruin" because I believed in him when he openly avowed that he would drive the money changers from the temple and hand America back to the Americans.
Today I believe in him as much as ever. Today it is "Roosevelt and Recovery" provided he veers neither to right nor to left; provided he will strike home at the very heart and soul and motor of modern capitalism, namely, the right of the few privileged ones to control the issuance of credit. Through this control they live like lords from the debts which we incur for national public works. Eventually, when these debts fall due, these over-privileged lords will demand payment of their pound of flesh either in currency money, which does not exist, or in the actual wealth of the nation which they will control. Have not the past two years taught us that we can never borrow ourselves out of debt with bankers' bonds and dollars? The National Union for Social Justice answers this question affirmatively. Upon this point, the National Union cannot and will not compromise.
Down the centuries of history two great and sinister stupidities have prevailed--witchcraft and statecraft. Superior and perverted minds have made them the instruments to power. Self-centered brilliant minds have employed them to control the man with the hoe, to exploit the man who stands at the lathe, to subjugate the man who follows the plow, and to rule and pauperize the multitudinous hoary-handed brothers and sisters of toil.
It is nearly a century since witchcraft fell upon evil days. Its stupidities were exposed. Superstition and the black arts were merged in the deeper shadows of oblivion. But its twin brother, the monstrosity of stupid statecraft, still blunders on. Turn back with me the pages of history until you come to the name of Nicholas Machiavelli. His was an inspired genius, which lacked the lustral drop of Christianity's brotherhood. It was he who codified the tenets and systematized the technique of modern statecraft in the most unsocial book ever produced by the mind of man. I refer to "Il Principe." Here is the doctrine contained in that book:
"The masses of men are irreclaimably inferior in intellect, in emotion and in spirit. Left to themselves the only law they will recognize is the law of the jungle. Anarchy is the order of their disordered souls. The masses cannot rule themselves. They cannot be unified and directed by leadership even of an intelligent ruler. Consequently, it is the duty of a superior mind, of a ruler, to deceive them with promises, to circumvent their disorderly impulsiveness by artifice, by oppression and by trickery. And, if necessary, by bloodshed. But always deceive them with promises."
This Machiavellian theory of statecraft was briefly but accurately expressed in the motto of that Bourbon, Louis XVI of France, "Divide and govern."
It was evidenced in America by the younger spiritual brother of Machiavelli, the brilliant Alexander Hamilton, who said of the people: "I loathe the masses." It was he who taught the powers of plutocracy in America how to divide and rule, how to make a travesty of democracy and a figment of political independence.
My friends, at this juncture I ask your leniency. I am going to speak to a certain group of persons as I have never spoken before. Not to the masses, whom I have defended and whom I will defend, am I addressing these remarks. But to the princes of American industry and finance, to the politicians who still believe in Machiavelli, in Alexander Hamilton and in the doctrines of deceit and of promises unfulfilled.
Bear with me and forgive me if I appear to be a so-called intellectual, speaking to the superior minded intellectuals of our nation.
"Leaders of America, gentlemen of the banking fraternity, members of Congress: Consider with me for a few moments the so-called average man, the man who barters the labor of his hands for the means of his livelihood. As far as all practical purposes are concerned he is your inferior in the intellectual order and in the social order. For the sake of argument let us admit that the great middle class--the laboring class, and the agricultural class of America--are only shadows of your substance in thought, in executive ability and in scientific endeavor as well as in social talent.
"I know how you valuate the common man in the scales of actuality--the actualities of life. You deem him to be the plaything of impulse, the toy of emotion. The demands of his great but foolish brain make profitable your degenerate press, your lascivious moving picture industry and the indecent drama of your burlesque houses.
"Nevertheless the common man is the man who is the centrifugal force in civilization. He is supposed to be your much talked about purchasing power. He is supposed to wear the textiles which your mills produce. He is supposed to ride in the cars which come embellished and ennobled from your factories. (How pleasing these products are to gaze upon! The common man who produces them comes forth from the same factories broken, disconsolate, and desecrated!)
"In a sense, gentlemen, grant that Machiavelli was right. Grant that Machiavelli his genius when he said that by their very nature the masses require a strong hand and a superior brain to rule them and to exploit them.
"Gentlemen of the intellectual class, now that we have considered the common man and judged him, are you willing to turn the x-ray upon your philosophy with the same objective disinterestedness of the scientific investigator? First may I inquire what were the colossal blunders of statecraft that destroyed the Caesars, the Bourbons, the Hapsburgs, the Hohenzollerns, the Romanoffs?
"Why did the heads of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette roll from the block of the guillotine?
"Why were Nicholas II and his entire family slaughtered in a Siberian cellar and the nobility of the Russian court scattered throughout the world to be door men and dish washers and menial clerks? All these were your predecessors in practicing the principles so ably taught by Nicholas Machiavelli.
"The answer is simple. Machiavelli forgot that there is one great force that can weld the masses in united and terrible action. That force is common suffering which becomes commonly known. You of the intellectual class, of the ruling class, perhaps forget this. You forget that you are not dealing with a Spartacus and his slaves, with a Condorcet and his rebels, with a Trotsky and his unkempt Moujiks. Today you are dealing with men and women to whom you have advertised the luxury which your factories produce and before whom you have flaunted the illegitimate wealth which your economic system has exploited. You are dealing with an educated common man upon whom you depend in a most intimate manner. You are dealing with the masses whose children are better trained, more virtuous, oftentimes, than your own.
"At this moment there is burning in the hearts of these masses an inextinguishable desire fanned, not by hatred but by justice, to share in the fruits of this nation. They know that these fruits belong to them. They know this despite your policy of deception, despite your broken political promises.
"Gentlemen, I have sat down with members of your intellectual class and have discussed with them the truth of democracy and the truth of finance. They have admitted to me the fiction of their credit system and of their exploitation systems which are in vogue. They shocked me when they said "To hell with the masses! Every man for himself!" But they have never argued with me about the facts of the case, being content to tell me that they will scare off the people with the noise which they will make on the drum of inflation.
"Is it not time to appeal to you intellectual people of America who prefer to be disciples of Machiavelli--is it not time to appeal to you to avert the shadow of the Bourbon guillotine that hovers over yourselves and your children? This is the question which I have been trying to arrive at.
"Is it not time to ask you to become fair competitors in the accumulation of wealth either in industry or in agriculture or in the professions and arts rather than attempt to retain this racket of creating it with a fountain pen?
"I cannot argue with you from a spiritual standpoint because this would have no force. You do not believe in Christ's principles. I can, however, appeal to you from your own selfish, material standpoint because I know the pulse of the people better than you will ever know it. If you think yourselves superior, utilize the intelligence you possess, correct the stupidities which your patron saint of intrigue forgot. Permit this Congress without further opposition to restore to themselves the coinage and the regulation of money. Machiavelli is as obsolete as Caesar Borgia for whom he wrote "The Prince."
"The days of Caesar Borgia with his mass murders and mass starvations, with his wars and his robberies have passed. For your own selfish love of life and of terrestrial happiness I ask you to be sufficiently intelligent to comprehend the new concept of human liberty and of social justice which was taught to you last Friday.
"Cease, therefore, computing how this program of social justice will be financed for your personal benefit. Look askance upon your over-privileged comrades-in-greed who, at this moment, have not enough intelligence to retreat. They are asking: "Do we get no bloody bonds? How can we loan our fiction of credit at interest to the richest nation in the world which is surely rising to its feet?"
And now my underprivileged friends, a word of information for you! To finance our recovery independent of the banker and his privileged greed, we have in our vaults today $8,234,000,000 in gold and $1,229,000,000 in silver. In all $9,472,000,000 of metallic currency against which there has been issued only $5,534,000,000 of greenbacks, of currency.
Shall we suffer while this money remains idle to fatten the wallets of the bankers or shall we employ it to create employment for the underprivileged?
Shall we, the taxpayers, or shall the bankers finance the program of social justice?
I know your answer. The millions of you citizens who have joined the National Union for Social Justice are united on this point.
Thus, may we prosper as a people and not as a privileged class! May God grant that the weeds of the over-privileged be rooted up.
It is your prerogative and duty to uphold the moral arms of our President while he, far removed from the conceits of Machiavelli, attempts to fulfill his program.
It is a program which aims at creating security for the able bodied. In its comprehension it reaches out a kindly hand to protect the aged who have borne life's burdens under a harsh, cruel, financial system.
It has Christian compassion on those poverty-stricken mothers who, when the valley of darkness confronts them, will enter it knowing that the practical sympathy of a grateful nation is extended to them.
It is a program that encompasses within its generous arms the little children, the handicapped and the infirm who henceforth shall not be denied the use of the surplus wealth possessed by their more fortunate fellow citizens.
These thoughts impel us to profess that a new day has dawned in statesmanship. The old statecraft has gone to join its twin brother, the old witchcraft, in the tomb of time.
Passing out is the shadow of Machiavelli and coming in is the substance of Roosevelt!
The old order changeth, giving place to new.
The people have given a new mandate for social justice. May our President and our Congress have the grace and the courage to fulfill it careless of criticism, and conscious that God will not fail them!
Note: General Hugh Johnson was FDR's Director of the National Recovery Administration (NRA). A controversial figure in his own right, Johnson was forced to resign from the government in late 1934, but he remained a Roosevelt supporter. In March 1935 he delivered an unexpected attack on the plans of Huey Long and Father Coughlin. His speech, at a dinner in his honor, set off a firestorm of debate about the merits of the two plans and it was the first time that the pro-Roosevelt forces had dared to take on Long and Coughlin.
A REPLY TO GENERAL HUGH JOHNSON
(Monday, March 11, 1935)
I AM truly indebted to the National Broadcasting System by whom this time is contributed and to General Hugh Johnson for having provided the occasion and the opportunity for me to address you.
I am mindful that I am a Catholic priest whose voice is being carried into the homes of millions of persons who do not share my faith. I am thoroughly mindful that despite differences of religion, of race, of color and of profession, I am also an American citizen privileged as such to speak to American citizens.
The economic disaster which overwhelmed our nation proved beyond question that, independent of all racial or religious differences, there was common need for Catholic, Protestant, Jew and irreligionist to solve a common problem. Together did we not enjoy a common citizenship? Together did we not rejoice in the common appellation of American? Together have we not worried through the dark years of this depression? Thus, when through the inevitable sequence of events, a crisis had been reached in the development of our social well being; when it became necessary to bridge the chasm that separates this day of our economic affliction from the tomorrow of our hoped for benediction, some one, irrespective of his Catholicity, or of his Protestantism, or of his Jewish faith was required to raise his voice, if for no other reason, than to condemn those who, refusing to leave this land of sorrow, obstructed our passage to the land of prosperity.
While it was and always will be impossible for me to divest myself of my Catholic priesthood, nevertheless, in accepting the dignities which my religion conferred upon me, I sacrificed in no respect the rights identified with my citizenship. It is still my prerogative to vote. It is still my privilege to be interested in good government. It is still my duty as a common citizen to engage in the common efforts for the preservation of our commonwealth as chaos clamors at our doors.
I regret sincerely that a man who once held such high office in our nation, either ignorantly or maliciously, has called into question this fundamental principle of citizenship. It has been intimated in words more forceful than mere suggestions that a priest's place is at his alter; that a priest, on becoming such, should sacrifice his privileges, his prerogatives and his rights as a democratic citizen. Thus, with the logic of a braggart, I have been challenged to divest myself of my priestly vocation, if I wish to participate in national affairs. Does our concept of Americanism instruct the teacher that his place is always in the classroom? Does it teach the lawyer that his proper place is circumscribed by the walls of his office? Does it tell the barber that his activities are limited to the tools of his trade? Does it cling to the out-worn theory of the divine right of kings by which is implied that the affairs of good government and the direction of national progress must be surrendered into the hands of professional politicians?
Unfortunately this erroneous doctrine has been openly intimated by the spokesman of a group which has gained control of the democratic liberties of a free people. It is just as logical to conclude that a general must be perpetually occupied in leading troops, if a clergyman must be constantly engaged in his sacerdotal duties.
Our concept of government so far transcends the bigotry of race, of creed, of color and of profession that, through our fore-fathers, we refrained from writing into the Constitution of the United States any impediment to disbar any citizen from engaging in the activities of good citizenship. I am compelled to rehearse this plain truth for your consideration because a demagogic utterance, by its appeal to thoughtlessness, to religious and to professional bigotry, has questioned it. The money changers, whom the Priest of Priests drove from the temple of Jerusalem both by word and by physical force, have marshaled their forces behind the leadership of a chocolate soldier for the purpose of driving the priest out of public affairs!
While always a priest I address you neither as the spokesman of the Catholic Church nor as the representative of its Catholic following. I speak to you as American to American.
While always a priest I carry to you the fundamental doctrines of social justice which are intended both for religionist and irreligionist, for black and white, for laborer and farmer for everyone who shares with me the citizenship in which I rejoice.
Therefore, away with that prostituted bigotry which, at one time, has been the poisoned rapier of arrant cowards and, at another, the butcher's cleaving axe wielded to destroy a national unity!
The object of the National Union for Social Justice is to secure economic liberty for our people. So well is this truth known that the concentrators of wealth are resorting to musty methods, long since in disrepute, to preserve America for the plutocrats and to retain its quarreling, divided citizens for their own exploitation.
Our program, which is interested in restoring America to the Americans, can be accomplished peacefully only through a national solidarity. Peacefully, I say, because I believe in the Prince of Peace and dare not disregard His warning they who use the sword shall perish by it.
In the meantime, therefore, let the Tories of high finance learn from their prototype, George III. Let the unjust aggressors, who for generations have mismanaged the economic affairs of our nation, assume the entire responsibility of their own Tory stubbornness. The laborer has not sabotaged our factories! The farmer has not created a man-made scarcity of food! The 80 million cry babies, to whom General Johnson referred, have not concentrated our wealth! These people, played upon by paid-for propaganda, did not hurl us into the seething,, maelstrom of a bloody war! These cry babies--80-millions of them, so confessed--were not responsible for the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few and for the destruction of small industry! They did not force 27-million hungry men and women to stand in a bread-line nor, with the lash of poverty, did they drive 11-million laborers into idleness and insecurity!
I am characterized as a revolutionary for raising my voice against these palpable injustices while the blind Bourbons cannot see the writing on the wall nor read the pages of history written in crimson by pens which were dipped into bleeding hearts at Concord, Lexington and Valley Forge!
In 1776 Washington and Jefferson and their compatriots had hurled at them the vile epithet of "revolutionary." Their lands had been over-taxed. Their laborers and farmers had been exploited. Their liberties had been denied. Their right to free speech and to petition had been scoffed at! They, too, were called "revolutionary."
Today, when the rights to life, to liberty and to the pursuit of happiness have been obstructed by an economic system of high finance far more vicious in its implications and results than were the unjust political aggressions of a George III, they who protest against them are classified and indexed with the patriots of 1776.
This, indeed, is a high compliment inadvertently paid by the new deal's greatest casualty, General Hugh Johnson, who never faced an enemy nor successfully faced an issue.
Today he and the Wall Streeters whom he represents become distorters of history and perverters of logic as they, the unjust aggressors, garb themselves in the rainment of patriotism and cast upon those who have suffered from their misdeeds the scarlet cloak of the rebel!
For a moment I plan to pause to answer the charges and insinuations which General Johnson so intemperately made against my person. First he said: "This political padre . . . may or may not now be an American citizen, but certainly once was not."
My dear General, I am as much, if not more, of an American citizen as you are or ever will be. Your parents are but one generation removed from Ireland. My paternal grandfather's bones are buried in Lackawanna, New York. My great-grandfather dulled many a pick with the pioneers who dug the Erie Canal. If you mean that I have sprung from the laboring class and chance to be born of American parents on Canadian soil I have no apologies to make. By an Act of Congress of February 10, 1855, Sec. 1993 U.S.R.S. I was always an American citizen!
Secondly, you categorically accuse me of breaking the religious vow of poverty. The truth is, as my religious superiors will testify, I never made a vow of poverty and therefore could never break one. More than that I never belonged to any religious order although I was associated with a group of priests whose lives were dedicated to the teaching of Canadian and American students.
Thirdly, you have cleverly insinuated that I was a modern Talleyrand, who, as a Catholic cleric, was excommunicated by his Church because, among other reasons, he protected the plundering Bourbons. This you did in one breath while in the next you praised the good Catholic laity. For what purpose? For none other than to turn not the Protestants nor the Jews against me but rather to confuse the people of my own faith. It is sufficient for me to say that, up to the present date, I have not been classified with a Talleyrand by those whose business it is to judge whether or not I am in good standing in the Catholic Church.
Fourthly, "compared to me Judas Iscariot is a piker"--the same Judas who betrayed his Lord and Master. It is not my province to classify myself with the eleven faithful Apostles. I am content to leave to the justice of history and to the judgment of God this decision.
What insanity possessed you to say such things? What desperation forced you to utter such exaggerations?
I remember how in 1933 Mr. Roosevelt pleaded with the people to cease their hoarding. I remember how he promised to raise the price of commodities. It was in those days that the committee in charge of the financial affairs of the Radio League of the Little Flower heeded the President's word and believed the President's promise. This committee, having more faith in Franklin D. Roosevelt than you and your kind ever placed in him, expended some of the surplus money under their care in silver contracts. As a result of this action more than $12,000 was gained for the Radio League of the Little Flower. Not one ounce of silver have I ever purchased for myself. Not one penny of gain from it have I ever made for myself. And I am the Judas Iscariot!
But you and your kind, wedded to the belief that the Baruchs are the only ones who should make gain by transacting business in commodities, have spewed your venom not upon me but upon an organization of people whose membership runs into the millions, because their legally constituted officers gained for them enough money to pay for the broadcasting activities which are designed for the people and paid for by the people.
It is perfectly ethical for your task-master, Bernard Baruch, to profit by his gold and silver transactions. But it is totally unethical for the people who have been exploited by him and his group of speculators and international bankers to gather the crumbs of profit which fall from the table of the commodity market.
To malign me you have more than insinuated that personally it was I who profited and, therefore, that I am the modern Judas Iscariot who has betrayed Jesus Christ! I rejoice that never once have I sold Jesus Christ nor did I betray the brothers of Jesus Christ! Can you say as much?
General Johnson, your enemies and, if I must say it, some of your fair-weather friends, have heaped upon my desk the fulsome record of your personal life. General, I disdain to refer to it. Need I remind you, however, that of old it was said that Christ stirreth up the multitudes; that He was a wine bibber, a consorter with sinners? Or need you remind me how the Master crowned with the thorns which were woven by the fingers of the money changers, nailed to the cross by the spikes which were forged in the furnace of hatred, said: "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." Dare I claim title to Christianity General, and forget that prayer?
My dear General Johnson, I am not important nor are you. But the doctrines which I preach are important. While you were content to vomit your venom upon my person and against my character the American public is fully cognizant that not once did you dare attack the truths which I teach. I need not condemn you before the court of public opinion. You have condemned yourself. More than that, you have appeared before a jury of 80 million people--your own figures, General--who, through your lack of Christian charity and justice, are today prejudiced against you. These "cry babies" whose tears have welled to their eyes because you and your kind have lashed them at the pillar of poverty; these brothers and sisters of Christ whom you and your masters have crowned with the thorns of worry and insecurity; these sterling American citizens whom you first fastened to the cross of hunger and nakedness and then pierced their hearts with the spear of exploitation--these inarticulate people for whom I speak will never forget you and your Wall Streeters!
These people, so you have intimated, are rats being led by a Pied Piper. Must that be the metaphor which you employ to describe the wreckage which your kind has created?
My friends, I appeal to your charity, to your good judgment, to your sense of social justice to bear no ill will against General Johnson. Your intelligence informs you that he is but a faithful, obedient servant willing to express in his own grotesque manner the thoughts which are harbored in the mind of his master. Today he appears before us as a figure to be pitied and not condemned. He has been cast out by an Administration because he and his plans were failures. Thus, as he appears before you on future occasions, remember that he is to be regarded as a cracked gramophone record squawking the messages of his master's voice.
My dear General, if I am constrained from indicting your person, it is simply because you are the first great casualty of the new deal experimentation. Whether you know it or not, you are but a political corpse whose ghost has returned to haunt us. Although I believe that your unquiet spirit will not rest in peace, nevertheless, I still believe in that ethical axiom--"De mortuis nil nisi bonum"--"Of the dead let us speak kindly." When real soldiers come forth to fight, having facts for targets and truths for ammunition, I shall oppose them with the most forceful weapons which my wits command, but never shall I adopt dishonest tactics or dishonest warfare or be accused of fighting a ghost. I shall draw my reasons from that school of militancy presided over by Jesus Christ, Who, 1900 years ago, refrained not from attacking in scathing terms the scribes and Pharisees. "Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour the horses of widows, praying long prayers. For this you shall receive the greater judgment. For you bind heavy and insupportable burdens and lay them on men's shoulders; but with a finger of your own you will not move them."
Yes, General Johnson, Christ, for having made that statement, is accused of stirring class against class by the Voltaires, the Rousseaus, the Louis Sixteenths, the atheists and the pussy-footers of all times. But there are times when certain classes must be forcefully reminded that there is such a thing as Christian charity which bids us love our neighbors as ourselves, and which warns us that whatsoever we do even to the least, we do to Christ. That is what the Pharisees refused to learn. That is what their descendants in Wall Street refuse to accept as they continue to devour the houses of widows and tax our citizenry into slavery and idleness.
Remembering the method of attack employed by Christ's Precursor, John the Baptist, I will dare confront the Herods by name and by fact even though my head be served on a golden platter; even though my body be sawed in twain as was that of the prophet Isaiah for having scorned into disrepute a prince by the name of Manasses!
Today there is another Manasses, your lord and master, General Johnson. I refer to Bernard Manasses Baruch whose full name has seldom been mentioned but which name from this day forth shall not be forgotten in America. This was the name which his parents gave him, the name Manasses. This is the name, General Johnson, of your prince of high finance. Him with the Rothschilds in Europe, the Lazzeres in France, the Warburgs, the Kuhn-Loebs, the Morgans and the rest of that wrecking crew of internationalists whose god is gold and whose emblem is the red shield of exploitation--these men I shall oppose until my dying days even though the Bernard Manasses Baruchs of Wall Street are successful in doing to me what the prince, after whom he was named, accomplished in doing to Isaias. I am well apprised of the fact that your own vociferous volubility, which you characterized last Monday night as "howling," is but the opening gun in a well organized attack against me. I fear it not because I am protected by the moral support of the "cry babies" and the "rats" whom you have forced into the ranks of the National Union for Social Justice. Therefore, I shall doubly bend my efforts to the task of handing back America to the Americans and of rescuing our beloved country from the hands of the Baruchs, your masters.
There are two remaining charges which you made against me. I rejoice in this opportunity to answer them. The first respects money. You said that my plan is "to make money out of nothing, which would therefore make it worth nothing." At least you admit that I have a plan. I need not inform this audience that since 1930 and long before then I had a plan to establish social justice. Long before you or the financial puppet-masters, who are expert in manipulating the strings of Punch and Judy oratory, became prominent in the desperate struggle for economic independence, I was associated with pioneers who were protesting against the profitless labor of our farmers and against the slavery of modern mass productionism.
Where were you in 1930 and 1931 while we were advocating a new deal on Sundays and feeding thousands in the bread line on Mondays, made necessary by the cold-blooded individualism of an ancient economic system to which you belong?
Where were you in 1932 when our same group was advocating the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the birth of a new deal long before Franklin Roosevelt was even nominated for the presidency?
Where were you in 1933 and 1934 when our beloved leader, consecrated to drive the money changers out of the temple, was hampered and impeded by your master, Bernard Manasses Baruch, the acting president of the United States, the uncrowned prince of Wall Street?
I say this in no disparagement because everyone appreciates that you are nothing more than his man Friday. With Bernard Manasses Baruch's plan in your pocket to regiment industry, to destroy competition, to institute a wage system designated to share poverty, to create monopolies and eliminate small industries --you strutted upon the stage of this depression like a comic opera cream puff general. You organized a comic opera parade on the streets of New York.
Why, General, before your name and your under-slung vocabulary became household words in this nation these pioneer associates of mine had been fighting in the front trenches against the enemies of the new deal, bearing its heaviest burdens and carrying its heaviest crosses!
And now you accuse me of planning to make money out of nothing. But let us become more specific on that point. The man who put this thought into your mouth is nothing but a thief yelling "Stop, thief!" Bear with me, General, as I refresh the memories of this audience on the nature of money and how it is manufactured out of nothing by your masters.
1. As you confess, money is merely the medium of trade. It is not wealth. It is only the transportation system, as it were, by which wealth is carried from one person to another.
2. For more than one hundred years the people of this nation have permitted a small group of men to possess the privilege of making money, and thereby, of controlling the flow of wealth. Many of us began to believe that money was the real wealth instead of the truck, as it were, whose only reason for existence is to carry the precious freight of food, of clothing, of shelter, of human beings and their labor from one point to another-- from the producer to the consumer--. There are many kinds of transportation, such as the railway, the truck, the steamboat. There are three kinds of capitalistic money all monopolized for use by the banker--metal, paper currency and credit. In round figures there are $9-billion of idle metal in the Treasury, $5-billion of paper currency throughout the nation and at least $250-billion of credit or of debt money such as mortgages, loans, bonds, etc. Credit money or check money is really the major portion of all our money by 90 per cent. Credit money is check book money.
3. How is this check book money created in this nation? First, a group of wealthy men petition the Government for a bank charter, or, in other words, for the right to counterfeit legally.
4. These men deposit, for example, $100-thousand with the Treasury. In return, the Treasury gives them $100-thousand worth of interest-bearing bonds which are kept at Washington as security. But the interest accumulating on the bonds belongs to these new bankers.
5. These men return to their home town after they have the Government print for them, at scarcely no cost, $100-thousand worth of paper dollars which they deposit in their new bank.
6. John Smith comes to these bankers for a loan of $10 thousand which he obtains at 6 per cent on depositing as security the deed for his $20-thousand farm.
7. Then the banker gives John a check book--no actual cash, mind you--and immediately writes on his own books that $10 thousand has been deposited, whereas in truth it was simply loaned.
8. Fifty, eighty, one hundred John Smiths go through the same process until the bank which started with only $100-thousand of printed money has loaned $1-million at 6 per cent. That was their rule, to lend ten times what they actually had. Therefore, the first year in business grossed the bank $60-thousand interest profit on an investment of $100-thousand which all this time was bearing interest for them through the bonds which they deposited originally at Washington at 4 per cent.
9. Of course, Jim Jones and one thousand other neighbors of Jim Jones placed their savings in the town bank. They thought that this money was safe and that the bank would surrender it on demand. But Jim did not read the fine print in his bank book. Had he done so, he would have discovered that he had actually loaned his money to the bankers; that he had become a creditor and, therefore, had to take his chance of getting his money back with all the other creditors and patrons of the bank.
10. Meanwhile, from the bankers' bank, the Federal Reserve Bank, word went out that too much money had been loaned by their fellow bankers. It was time to call in the loans. It was time to cut down on credit. Thus Henry Doe, the manufacturer, John Smith, the farmer and Peter Adams, the merchant, all of whom borrowed from the bank were ordered to pay back in currency money, mind you, what they obtained in check book money. Simultaneously this happened all over the nation. Ten, twenty, thirty billion dollars of loans were called. There were only five billions of dollars of currency money in existence. It was an impossible situation. Therefore, a depression arose. The deeds and mortgages were claimed by the bankers and homes and farms and industries were confiscated by him because there was no currency money.
11. Did the banker close up shop? He did not. At least the big bankers did not. They liquidated the homes and farms and industries which they confiscated when the borrowers had no currency money to save them. They sold them for what they could obtain on a depressed market. Then they turned around with this new fresh currency money and bought government bonds at 4 per cent or less.
12. Meanwhile, bread lines were established. Unemployment was rife. Poverty stalked through the nation. Of necessity the government must obtain money to feed the poor and must under take public work to salvage the unemployed. Therefore, it borrowed $8-billion from the bankers who, playing their game even in the face of national distress, loaned the government a fat check book and, perhaps, for good measure, a bottle of ink and a fountain pen. Still there were only $5-billion of actual currency in the nation. But, through a banker's magic and a gambler's instinct, they loaned the $8-billion because they knew that in eighteen years hence, $6-billion in interest would be returned by the government for the privilege of using a banker's check book--$14-billion in all!
There, General, is the true story of how money is made out of nothing. Can you or any Wall Streeter controvert this?
To this process of manufacturing money I have been opposed simply because our Constitution says that it is the right of Congress to coin and regulate the value of money. In the year 1694 this right still belonged to the British people and to their Parliament but, when threatened by invasion, the merchants and goldsmiths of London forced Parliament to surrender this right to them. This was the price of their patriotism. This was the birthday of the privately owned Bank of England.
During the days of our Civil War, when Abraham Lincoln was engaged in realizing a dream that was born in the crib of Bethlehem, he needed gold to purchase arms and ammunition. In that day the international bankers were willing to loan gold to Lincoln on the one condition that he would abrogate and cancel Article I, Section VIII, Clause V of our Constitution which says Congress has the right to coin and regulate the value of money. This right they themselves coveted; this right they themselves demanded.
From that day forward until 1913 when the Federal Reserve Banking system was created--a system owned by a group of your masters and not by the American people, as many in this audience formerly believed--from that day forward the economic destinies of our country have been controlled by these private Central bankers who extended and contracted credit at will.
Because I have, in season and out of season, demanded that we Americans go back to the Constitution and restore to Congress its right and duty to coin and regulate the value of money you have assailed me and in doing so have stultified yourself.
When did I ever propose to make money out of nothing? I have pointed to $9-billion of idle gold and silver, sterilized in the vaults of our Treasury. I have questioned time after time the wisdom on the part of our government running to the Federal Reserve Bank for dollars created out of nothing, borrowing this manufactured money for relief purposes, for public works activities, with the understanding that the bankers would be repaid either with good currency, at interest, or else the security of the United States could be confiscated by them.
I have advocated that the government employ this idle gold and silver instead of building up unpayable debts to be shouldered by the unborn children of future generations. You and your group have been the inflationists, the makers of money out of nothing. But mindful of the Federal Reserve Act which was passed in 1913 and which permits 2 currency dollars to be printed against each gold dollar; mindful that we have only 5 billion paper dollars in the country and over $9-billion of gold and silver in the Treasury, I have asked and I still ask why we do not employ it for the welfare of the American people instead of utilizing the bankers' manufactured money for the welfare of the Warburgs, the Rothschilds, the Kuhn-Loebs, the Morgans and your own master, Bernard Manasses Baruch?
Only yesterday afternoon I asked that same question. And this morning, to the gratification of every patriotic American, Franklin D. Roosevelt has made the initial step in our direction. Today he has given the answer to you and your false charge by ordering the use of approximately $650-million of that idle gold and silver, thereby giving his benediction to the principles for which I have fought for more than three years.
The few minutes which remain at my command I shall devote to your last set of charges which I need not rehearse. My record is clear in that neither you nor Bernard Manasses Baruch can justify any statement to the effect that the National Union for Social Justice or that I, its President, are allied with Republican or Democrat, with Catholic or Protestant or with any other individual or group of individuals. The principles which I have enunciated and the principles upheld by other organizations are ample proof to substantiate this statement. My dear General, you have gone on record as categorically stating that, ever since the exposition of the silver list, I have been opposed to Franklin D. Roosevelt, our elected President. An entire nation knows that this statement is palpably untrue. On that point my is clear.
Who originated the slogan of Roosevelt or Ruin?
Who repeated it again this year? When only last January the President's magnificent message was read to Congress, did not your master's associates condemn it, while openly and nationally I advocated its support?
The real enemies who are boring from within have been you and your group of Wall Streeters, of international bankers.
Who have been the President's advisers over a period of two years? Not the farmer or the laborer, not the National Union for Social Justice, not his close and disinterested friends! Surely they were not responsible for 11-million men who are still unemployed, for 22-million persons who are still in the bread lines, for our national debt which has risen to the unscalable heights of $34-billion. If our people are growing disheartened, it is not because they have lost faith in Franklin D. Roosevelt, but because they are rising in their wrath against you and your group who have surrounded him.
It was Bernard Manasses Baruch and the international bankers who whispered into his perturbed ears the philosophy of destruction, the philosophy of social reforms and policies, all of which have prevented a magnificent leader like Roosevelt from rescuing a nation still bound to the rock of depression by the chains of economic slavery ? Did they not, in season and out of season, obstruct our President from driving the money changers from the temple ? Did not your master, the acting President of the United States, actually sit in at the gold plate banquet of the Supreme Court before the gold clause decision?
My friends in this audience, I still proclaim to you that it is either "Roosevelt or Ruin." I support him today and will support him tomorrow because we are neither going back to the individualism of the past nor are we going forward to the communism of the future. But I am not that type of false friend who, mangling the very meaning of the word friendship, praise policies like N.R.A. when criticism is required or betray my millions of supporters throughout this nation by preaching to them the prostituted slogan of "'Peace, Peace,'when there is no peace."
The fantastic fusillade of false charges which the genial general of generalities, the kind chocolate soldier, and the sweet Prince of Bombast so engagingly publicized, certainly were not potent enough to arouse my wrath. More important things must be accomplished. I dare not be diverted from my course by a red herring, even though it chances to be a dead one.
America's destiny is in the process of fulfillment. The ancient world set aside the bondage of physical freedom. Throughout the middle centuries civilization struggled to disentangle itself from an agrarian serfdom which prevented men from owning their own homes or farms. In later days, in the spirit of the Magna Carta, there was lifted aloft the first standard for political freedom. Physical, agrarian, political--these freedoms has the world obtained. But, as the finger of Providence weaves on the wall of time the fabric of this life's story, there is still another golden thread which must be spun from north to south, from east to west--the golden thread of economic liberty and financial freedom. Palestine has given us our religion--our faith and hope and charity. Greece has bestowed upon us her culture. From the Tiber's banks at Rome came law and order. It was left to England and Spain, and especially to the Nordic nations, to teach the world the story of commerce and carry across the seven seas the glory which they inherited.
What part must America play? There is only one. We, the great creditor nation of this world, who today control its gold are in a position to strike the first and telling blow for economic freedom, for financial independence! This shall be our contribution. As long as there is a God in heaven and power within my soul I will stand out first and foremost to lead in driving the money changers from the temple. This is the destiny of Columbia. This will be her contribution to civilization. To this task I invite you to dedicate your lives.
All material from "A Series of Lectures on Social Justice," by Rev. Chas. E. Coughlin, Radio League of the Little Flower, Royal Oak Michigan, March 1935.