Hal Draper

Board of War Dictators Set Up
by Washington

Representatives of Sixty Families Run the Board Which Will Become
“Executive Agency of the Government” in War-time

(18 August 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 59, 18 August 1939, pp. 1 & 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The most sinister step thus far taken in the war preparations of the U.S. Government was made known in Washington August 9.

This was the definitive setting up of the board of war dictators who are scheduled to take over governmental power in this country upon the outbreak of war, under the terms of the notorious Industrial Mobilization Plan.

The statement handed out by the War and Navy Departments announced that the new body has been given the innocent-sounding title of the War Resources Board. It is to function at the present time as a civilian advisory board to the Army and Navy Munitions Board, in charge of perfecting the plans for the mobilization that would follow M-Day, the official designation for the first day of war.

But “in the event of an international emergency” it would “lose its semi-official status as an advisory organization” and “become an executive agency of the government with broad powers in many ways similar to those exercised by the War Industries Board of World War days.”

In line with the statement made in the Industrial Mobilization Plan that the head of this “War Cabinet “should be an “outstanding industrial leader,” the man who is named as chairman of the Board is Edward R. Stettinius, Jr., who is chairman of the board of directors of U.S. Steel, the kingpin of American war industry. Other members named so far are: Walter S. Gifford, president of American Telephone and Telegraph; J.L. Pratt, director of General Motors; General R.E. Wood, head of Sears Roebuck; Dr. Karl T. Compton, president of the Mass. Institute of Technology; and Harold G. Moulton, president of Brookings Institute. The secretary of the board is Colonel Harry K. Rutherford, of the Army Ordnance Department.

Four top-flight “economic royalists” are thus named to become the rulers of American life – “TO GET POWER IN A CRISIS,” as the New York Times headline puts it. It is expected that other representatives of America’s Sixty Families will be added later.

Roosevelt in Open

The brief announcement, which the War and Navy Department officials refused to amplify further, made clear that for the first time President Roosevelt has come out into the open on this plan for a war dictatorship. These officials stated that Roosevelt had approved the formation of the agency; and that the whole War Dictatorship set-up had been recently made directly responsible to him personally, instead of to the War and Navy Secretaries as previously.

The Industrial Mobilization Plan has been known since 1933, when it was first published, as the “blueprint for dictatorship” in America in a new war “or other national emergency.”

When its main provisions were introduced in Congress as the Sheppard-Hill and Sheppard-May bills, the Plan was roundly denounced by wide circles of the trade union movement, including both the AFL and CIO, and with almost complete unanimity by all liberals and liberal organizations.

The Senate Munitions Investigating Committee, headed by Nye, exposed it as providing for an “actual operating dictatorship” in war-time. The main forces behind it have been the War Department, the American Legion and Bernard M. Baruch, who headed the similar set-up during the World War.

The Plan is a detailed study of ways and means of suppressing all democratic rights in war-time, and especially of controlling the labor movement. It embodies several methods of breaking strikes; fixing wages, abolishing all social legislation which protects the interests of the workers, drafting women and children for war labor, censorship of the press, etc. It includes also an all-important provision for the imposition of the draft for all men from the ages of 18 to 45.

This War Dictatorship Plan has never been acted upon by the people or even by Congress; and indeed it is not intended to be submitted for any vote until M-Day itself. Then, the government officials expect, it can be pushed through Congress in double-quick time and without change, under the pressure of hysterical war propaganda.

Especially since the election of Roosevelt in 1933, however, the M-day plans have been put into operation even without legislative sanction, through administrative action.

Last updated on 10 March 2016