Hal Draper

Secret Plans Already Formed
for Iron Dictator in America

War Department and Big Industrialists Formulate
Complete Details for Muzzling Free Speech,
Even “Free Thought,” and Wiping Out All Labor Gains

(April 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 21, 4 April 1939, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

“To wage a successful war you need an absolute monarch. I have yet to hear of a democracy or a republic waging a successful war,” said Mr. Irenee duPont to the Nye Committee of the Senate, investigating the Industrial Mobilization Plan.

In the flies of the War Department is a blueprint to carry Mr. duPont’s thought into practice. In the form of plans for conscription, labor control, breaking strikes, clamping a censorship on the press, abolishing progressive legislation, setting up an emergency junta to rule the country by decree under the dictatorship of the President, etc. – all this planned in as minute detail as if it were going into operation tomorrow – the government is ready to demonstrate how such democracy you will have at home when you fight the next war “for democracy.”

This is the Industrial Mobilization Plan. These plans are official secrets; you are not supposed to be concerned with them. Even to the Nye Committee, the War Department revealed just what it pleased and no more. It made clear that its intention was to rush the industrial mobilization bills through Congress on the day war is declared; it is not particularly interested in having the bills voted on or discussed now.

Dictatorship in Hands of “War Cabinet”

The plan provides for the setting up of a virtual “War Cabinet,” composed of “prominent industrialists” appointed by the President. As a minority of the House Military Affairs Committee has put it – when this body “takes over,” “Congress might as well let its halls be burned, go home and be prepared to be called occasionally for a speech in some opera house.”

Control of the press is an integral part of the plan. And more than that. Listen to these words of Herbert Bayard Swope, who was Assistant Chairman of the War Industries Board the last time and who testified before a Congress committee as a past master in the art of propaganda:

“Just as other constitutional provisions are ignored in time of war, so, too, must there be an abridgement of free speech, free press, free assembly, and even free thought. In no other way can a nation save itself ...

“Enlightened and informed public opinion in war is ideal, but the plan is dangerous. We must have a stencil. If we take the muzzles off the dogs of war, we must put the muzzles on the people and the press ...”

A Dozen Ways to Break Strikes

The War Department has worked out a dozen different ways to break strikes – not just strikes which might have an anti-war objective, but in the first instance strikes for higher wages, better conditions, and so forth. It is determined that labor shall not be permitted to reach for higher wages to balance the inevitable sky-rocketing of prices.

One of the big objectives of the Industrial Mobilization Plan is the draft. This has always been a delicate question in America; the War Department remembers the hatred and resistance of the people to the draft in 1917 and 1918 (the first time American soldiers were drafted to fight on foreign soil). All men 18 to 45 are to be drafted – even the forms are prepared right now – and elaborate machinery is ready to put it into action at a moment’s notice.

Local boards of “prominent citizens” in each town – tentative lists of prospective members are already on file – will decide which workers will be sent to the front and which retained to work at home. Any worker can be “re-classified” – that is, sent to the front instead of the factory – by this board at any time. The “prominent citizens” on the draft board – your boss and his friends – may decide that a militant who makes too much “trouble” is really not essential behind the lines.

Fear “Social Disturbance”

The workers met the draft in the Civil War with the cry, “A rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight!” In the next war, the reality will be: War “for democracy” through dictatorship at home. The declaration of war, whatever its avowed purpose, will mean first of all an aggression on the liberty and on the bread and butter of every worker.

That is, if there is a declaration of war. The Industrial Mobilization Plan needn’t wait for that formality. It is scheduled to go into effect “in time of war or other national emergency” – for example, “a national emergency due to the imminence of war,” or “social disturbances.” It is above all the specter of the “social disturbances” that followed the last war in Russia and all Europe which motivated the hands that wrote the Industrial Mobilization Plan.

Last updated on 17 January 2016