Hal Draper

The M-Day Plan Seen For What It Is –
A Blueprint for Dictatorship

The New York Times, Responding to the Bugle Call
as War Comes Closer, Frankly Discusses the Meaning
of the Industrial Mobilization Plan, and Yells “Hurrah!”

(22 August 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 61, 22 August 1939, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The day after the Roosevelt administration announced the setting up of the War Dictatorship Board which will “take over” on M-Day and administer a military regime, the New York Times was ready with its editorial eye-wash. A study of the Times editorial of August 11 on Industrial Mobilization is invaluable.

The appointment of the “War Resources Board,” says the editorial, “is one of the most important steps yet taken in the industrial mobilization of the nation for war.” It “will blaze a fresh trial in the history of American national defense, for no such body has heretofore functioned in peacetime. ...” This is correct. Roosevelt is the first president to announce openly that a military dictatorship will follow the outbreak of any war the U.S. goes into, and more than that; to name the dictators in advance.

A Blue Print for Dictatorship

“In time of war the War Resources Board is to become a real power ... In addition to this kingpin board, which would in effect CONTROL GOVERNMENT AND CIVILIAN REQUIREMENTS in accordance with the production capacity of the nation, many other emergency bodies ... are scheduled to spring up, like legislative mushrooms, out of the lush soil of war, AND BETWEEN THEM ARE TO CONTROL EVEN THE MINUTIAE OF OUR DAILY LIVES.”

These other “emergency bodies” are listed: War Trades Administration; War Labor (the first line of offense for strike-breaking); Public Relations (counterpart of Goebbels’ Propaganda Ministry); Selective Service (the draft, to be administered in each town by the local industrial and finance Pat Boys); War Finance; Price Control (and wage control); etc.

“These agencies,” continues the Times, “are to be set up in accordance with the carefully studied and thoroughly integrated Industrial Mobilization Plan of the fighting services, A PLAN FOR DIRECTING, CONTROLLING AND CANALIZING THE WAR LIFE OF THE NATION ...”

One might wish that the workers were as clear about the intent of the government as is the Times. But just to clinch the point, the editorial goes on:


Not Very Pleasant – But Inevitable

But the Times is against dictatorship – it’s all for democracy, and so this sentence cannot be left standing as is. It isn’t. The sentence continues:


Not that the Times finds this palatable – dear, dear, no.

“Certainly none of this is very pleasant, but it is perhaps inevitable in this mad period of contemporary history.”

But take heart:

“The appointment of Mr. Stettinius and his associates should reassure the public against the fear that the Industrial Mobilization Plan might be made the instrument for oppression ...”

Before we turn back to the Times we wish to clarify this question of a dictatorship which is a democracy and vice versa. The editorial neglected to quote other examples of this strange mixture: we shall do so.

A Few Examples of Democratic Dictatorship

First, there is Greece. The reader may be under the impression that Greece is a bloody dictatorship ruled by the butcher Metaxas, where as many workers have been slaughtered and where there are as many concentration camps (in proportion to the population) as in Hitler Germany. Where workers’ parties are outlawed, parliament abolished, revolutionaries shot on sight. But the Times itself recently carried the following statement to the press by the Greek Consul General in New York:

“Premier Metaxas has been authorized to govern the country by royal decrees and his authority therefore compares with that of Premier Daladier in France. Consequently Greece remains a democracy ...”

Or listen to the Times’ Rome correspondent, Arnold Cortesi, on January 2, 1938:

“Premier Mussolini has declared more than once ... that the so-called dictatorships are the world’s purest example of democracy ...”

To clear up the natural question as to what democracy is anyway, we can now mention another Times editorial which appeared two days after the one on Industrial Mobilization, August 13. It is titled: Democracy is Freedom. And “Dictatorship today means life regulated by a policeman with a gun.” Since the latter sentence is a good description of life under the Industrial Mobilization Plan, as explained by the Times itself two days previous, it is clear that by this time the editor has forgotten his M-Day editorial, as he hopes his readers have.

To finish up on the Times, we cannot forbear revealing that its present attitude of regretful acceptance of the M-Day dictatorship is a change of line.

Only last year, on April 10, 1938, the Times ran another editorial on the Plan. Here is what it said then:

“In effect the plan provides for government by fiat, with the President as absolute dictator of the nation’s destinies, and with an emergency establishment virtually superseding the Cabinet and executive branches of government ... It is a somewhat dubious tribute to the thoroughness of preparation and clarity of military thought that have gone into this plan to note that both Germany and Japan have patterned their industrial mobilization plans after ours ... It (the Sheppard-May Mobilization bill) certainly should not be passed in its present form. For though it may help to achieve efficiency in the transition from peace to war, it does so at a price – the price of freedom ... it is a ‘surrender of democratic rights’ to a military autocracy, a legislated confession of our lack of confidence in those self-governing principles for which this nation long has stood four-square.”

This is the sign of the times. The boys are falling into line. The bugle is calling, and every newspaper organ of the Fat Boys must do its duty. “Unpleasant but perhaps inevitable ...”

Last updated on 10 March 2016