Chapter One


The Background: The American Extreme Right 1920-1960


On occasions, Extreme Right movements in twentieth century America have been able to emerge from the political fringe to command detectable influence. Radical organisations were, for example, able to influence broad movements such as Senator Joseph McCarthy’s anti-communist crusade and the Goldwater Presidential campaign of 1964. The Extreme Right could exploit the Great Depression, the isolationist sentiment of the pre-World War II years and the Cold War. The emergence of volatile race relations in the 1960’s, permitt­ed the growth of racist and fascist organisations able to capitalise on these developments. However, the deep fissures and ideological divisions within the Extreme Right militated against the effective formation of the most radical and virulent Extreme Right creed - fascism. This has contributed to the absence of a firm voice able to unite the fragmented sections of the Extreme Right. In the 1960’s however, it appeared that George Lincoln Rockwell could fuse the disparate elements of the Extreme Right into a distinctively American fascist movement.

The American experience of fascism was very different from that of Europe. Europe experienced, before 1914, a particularly active proto-fascist movement. In every European nation in which a fascist movement emerged during the period 1919-39, the groundwork for such an outbreak had already been laid. France, for example, lived through the intense activity of the anti-semitic Action Francaise; Italy witnessed the fusion of ultra-nationalism and revolutionary syndicalism; Germany saw a Youth Movement desirous of forging a Fuhrer-state. (1) The experience of the Great War synthesised the extreme forms of anti-semitism, aggravated nationalism, militarism and authoritarianism into fascism. (2) Historians have turned increasingly towards understanding these roots of fascism to explain fascism in action, fascism on the way to power and fascism in power. (3) The application of a similar method of analysing roots of an American fascism (Populism, the Klan, religious fundamentalism and ideological racism) reveals the contrast between the European and American varieties of fascism. Whereas European fascism competed with, and often over­whelmed, the traditionalist nationalist right, American fascism generally failed to break free of other organisations and ideas of the Extreme Right. (4) On only two occasions did an American fascist movement (as distinct from fascist sects) begin to grow, firstly around the neutralist-nationalist agitation of Charles Lindbergh, and secondly, with George Lincoln Rockwell in the 1960’s.

Fascism, as explained by its British protagonist Sir Oswald Mosley, was an ideology of crisis,

1 Robert G. L. White, Vanguard of Nazism: The Free Corps Movement in Post War Germany, New York, 1969, pp. UA21, discussed the German Youth Movement as the precursor of Nazi Romanticism.
2 Joachim C. Fest, Hitler, London, 1977, pp. 133-159.
3 J. J. Linz, “Some Notes Towards A Comparative Study of Fascism in Sociological- Historical Perspective,” in W. Lacquer, (ed.), Fascism: A Reader’s Guide, London, 1979, PP. 29 - 39.
4 Francois Duprat et A. Renault, Les Fascismes Americanes 1924 - 1941, Le Trait, 1975, pp. 83-88

a pragmatic unity of ideas designed to answer certain difficulties (social, military, racial) inside the national framework. Fascist movements are clear products of immediate political factors. German Nazism, for example, fused revanchist nationalism, and the spirit of the trenches, while capitalising on the despair of the working and middle classes at the realities of post-war Germany. The aim was to mobilise the whole nation into an iron Volksgemeinshaft (people’s community) to reopen the war on the Entente powers, or, at least, to reverse the Peace of Versailles. In France during the years 1958-62, fascism induced a state of near civil war over the question of French Algeria. This fascism grew from the results of decolonialisation, and in particular, from the feeling of national decline. A fascism was created by the dread 'OAS'. Its slogans echoed those of the Third Reich: “One Aim: Bring Down the Fifth Republic; One Slogan: Algerie Francaise; One Leader: Salan.” (6) A completely different fascism can be viewed in the case of the British National Front. This fascism was a response to a crippled British society undergoing industrial decline and alien immigration. It is perhaps also, if a philosophic dimension can be extended to the National Front, a protest against the drab Welfare State. (8)

5. Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Boston, 1969, passim.
6 George Hennisart, Wolves In The City, London, 1972, p. 20.
7 Martin Walker, The National Front, London, 1977, pp. 154-5, 195-200.
8 It’s Our Country, Let’s Win it Back, National Front election policy document, London, 1977, passim.

The point illustrated by this brief overview of fascist movements is that each has key areas of divergence from the other. Different nations produced different forms of fascism. Different time periods may engender different fascisms in the same country. (9) Nonetheless, fascism remains a crisis-ideology, since only through some social or national crisis does it break through political convention and have the potential to be a mass movement. Fest observed that Joseph Goebbels understood this when he proclaimed that National Socialism was neither a bourgeois idea at the service of authority against Left revolution, nor a variant of German conservative-nationalism, but something different. National Socialism synthesised the views of other groups, moulded them, vulgarised them and dished up the new creed with propagandist flair. (10) The German variety of fascism was to be German patriotism mobilised for a national revolution.(11)

Eugene Weber has warned against trying to under­stand American fascism solely through the prism of the European fascist experience as expounded by Goebbels and others. The European fascist programmes of the inter-war period were able to stress the dynamic aspects of national solidarity and military expansionism. Ostensibly fascist groups in America stressed domestic conformity.

9 Maurice Bardeche, Qu’est-a que le fascisme?, Paris, 1970, pp. 91-95and pp. 194-95
10 Joachim Fest, op. cit., pp. 489-94.
11 Victor Reimann, Joseph Goebbels: The Man Who Created Hitler, London, 1979, pp. 50-51.
12 Sander A. Diamond, The Nazi Movement In The United States, 1924 - 1941, Ithaca, 1974, p. 156.

Weber’s argument should be rigorously applied to the examination of the U.S. Extreme Right. Groups which appear to be fascist may not actually be so - particularly those which copied the externalia of European fascism.

The question of fascism has been stressed here. There were many right-wing systems and ideologies in Europe and America before World War Two, and after. Fascism shared similar characteristics with rightist movements like Franco-ism in Spain, Pilsudski’s dictatorship in Poland, and with the German National People’s Party. Yet fascism was different if only because of its violence, intolerance, romanticism, and its professed desire to have nations live vicariously and not in the bourgeois style. (13) John Lukacs has seen fascism as part of the “greatest political-ideological revolution in the century", the result of the fusion of nationalism and socialism. (14) Fascism was a modern ideology attuned to technological change. It applied technology to the human existence through its use of propaganda.(15) Indeed, Herbert Marcuse saw fascism as the first ideology to form from the evolution of a post-industrial society. (16) Fascism can only be defined as a variety of revolution – and in the America of the twentieth Century, revolution has not been on history’s agenda.

13 A. James Gregor, The Ideology of Fascism: The Rationale Of Totalitarianism, New York, 1969, Chapter One, passim.
14 John Lukacs, The Last European War Sept. 1939 - Dec. 1941, New York, 1976, p. 285.
15 Herbert Marcuse, Counter Revolution And Revolt, Boston, 1978, passim.
16 Herbert Marcuse, One Dimensional Man, London, 1969, passim.

The remainder of this chapter is divided into some broad sections. The period leading to World War Two, (1920-40), is examined and I argue that certain characteristics of American fascism can be found in the America First agitation. These characteristics differentiate it from other Extreme-Right tendencies. Another section covers 1945-60, the immediate background to the Rockwell movement. Various Extreme-Right trends are mentioned, which permit a more accurate understanding of American Nazism’s relationship to the Extreme-Right.

Section One: The Extreme Right 1920-40

While Europe entered a period of political and social crisis in the 1920’s, and a period of questioning of political institutions, ideologies and social mores, America experienced a very different variety of crisis. The growth of Hiram Wesley Evans’s Invisible Empire of the Ku Klux Klan, epitomised efforts made in this era to retain old native American ethics in a society undergoing industrial and racial change. (17) The Klan’s impetus was not so much racial as moral; it tried to restore the fading Christian spirit in boom-years America. While its moral principles were reactionary, its nationalism stressed Americanist conformity. It was a sort of continuation of a Great War nativist mobilisation, of the atmosphere of the Red Scare

17 Kenneth J. Jackson, The Ku Klux Klan In The City, Oxford, 1967, passim.

of 1919 and of the early 1920’s campaign to restrict immigration into the United States. The crisis in 1920’s America involved the struggle to return to normalcy. This was not a revolutionary objective.

Kurt Ludecke, a roving ambassador of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, ordered by Hitler to establish contacts with U.S. anti semites like Henry Ford, made a poignant observation on the American Right. Ludecke maintained that it suffered from “a peculiar dietary deficiency", (18) which precluded the possibility of the formation of an organisation of the NSDAP-type; Ludecke’s ire focussed on the naive anti-semitism of Henry Ford and the Ku Klux Klan. (19) As it turned out, American fascism did not hail from these quarters.

American fascism did not emerge from the writings of the 1920’s race theorists either. Madison Grant and Lothrop Stoddard were the key writers on U.S. race theory in the 1920’s. Their themes involved the “Nordic settlement” of America and the contemporary “de-nordicising” of the American population. (20) While their nativist Mein Kampfs certainly interested many Americans, they failed to inspire any revolutionary movement. Indeed these writers possessed a clear class bias, a contempt for the lower classes. (21)

18 Kurt Ludecke, I Knew Hitler, London, 1938, p. 195.
19 ibid, pp. 187-94.
20 Madison Grant, The Conquest Of A Continent, New York,1934, pp. 255-266; Lothrop Stoddard, The Rising Tide Of Colour Against White World Supremacy, London, 1922, passim.
21 Lothrop Stoddard, The Revolt Against Civilisation, London, 1922, p. 213.

Even the German race theorists, Julius Langbehn and Houston Stewart Chamberlain, who inspired Nazism, never pronounced the proletariat racially inferior. Fascism, despite its elitism, was a popular movement which sought to embrace the whole nation in a classless society. Grant and Stoddard were patricians who feared mass movements. (22) Further, the America of the 1920’s failed to engender any movement (other than the Italian-American ethnic fascist organisation, the Fascist League of North America) which even laid claim to the fascist mantle. However, the 1930’s placed fascism on America’s political horizon. The Great Depression of these years spurred the development of Extreme Right organisations. The stock market crash threatened the American Dream. From the Depression came severe personal and political alienation, poverty and despair. Just as it speeded the development of the Left, so the threat of social anarchy developed an activist Right. Gail Sindell noted that the Depression atmosphere caused the most unusual characters to build Extreme Right groups or maintain that they were fascists. (23) The epithet ‘crank’ covers many of these persons, who were to influence so much the ideas and styles of the U.S. Extreme Right.

22 Madison Grant, The Passing Of The Great Race, New York, 1916, passim, and Lothrop Stoddard, The Revolt, London, 1922, passim.
23 Gail Anne Sindell,”Gerald B. Winrod And The Defender: A Case Study Of The Radical Right,” Case Western Reserve University, Ph.D. Thesis, 1973, p. ii.

Sindell referred specifically to Gerald B. Winrod as representative of a trend in Extreme Right politics -the strong Christian strain. Winrod had been a fundamentalist preacher who, in the 1920’s, led a movement against the teaching of evolution theory in American schools. (24) Winrod believed America to be the chosen land of God and when the Depression struck publicly stated that satanism was abroad in society. Roosevelt was a “devil.” (25) Winrod spread his views through his newspaper, The Defender, which by 1934, achieved a 100,000 monthly circulation.

Somewhat similar to Winrod in social origins, if not always in style, was William Dudley Pelley. In the 1920’s he had been a preacher in a small church in North Carolina and during this time he made money from recounting his “death experiences". (26) However, by 1932 he had come to argue for action to save the unemployed from godless communism and America from moral chaos. On January 31st, 1933 he founded the Silver Shirt Legion of America. “What Hitler has done for Germany and Mussolini has done for Italy, I will do for America”, he subsequently boasted. (27) At its peak in 1935, the Silver Shirts claimed 100,000 members and had chapters in every major American city. Pelley, not unlike most American extremist

24 ibid, p. 34.
25 Gerald B. Winrod, The Truth About the Protocols, Metairie, 1975, passim.
26 “William Dudley Pelley,” Perseverence, Magazine of National Socialist Hungarians, Jan. 15, 1975, pp. 13-14, Merredin (West Australia).
27 William Dudley Pelley, No More Hunger, Danville, 1936, p. 30.

imagined himself a man of destiny. (28)

Pelley may have been spiritual kin to Arthur Smith of Philadelphia, who founded in early 1933, his Khaki Shirts of America, prepatory to his “march on Washington”. A similar movement known as the Black Legion, a spin-off from the Klan, operated in Michigan. (29) There were hosts of geographically restricted Shirt movements, led by local chieftains with messianic pretensions, with scanty programmes, but some passion for confrontation with Jews and members of the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA).

The Shirt organisations can be seen in retrospect as part fascist, part Klan, American squadristi. poorly led, whose march on Washington could never take place. (30) The Shirts advocated some economic reforms - like corporatism which were derived from fascism, but it would be wrong to argue that they challenged the economic powers of capitalism in any way. They advocated nativist principles along Klan lines - such as opposition to Catholicism. They advocated the principles of “action” to save America, but unlike Italian fascists did not make a cult of dynamism; their programmes, as exemplified by the Silver Shirts were designed to “restore America to sanity” - the return to normalcy. (31) Certainly the Left took the Shirts to be

28 George Wolfskill and William Hudson, All But the People: Franklin Roosevelt And HisCritics, London, 1969, pp. 68-72.
29 Jackson, op. cit., p. 143.
30 Francois Duprat and Alain Renault, “Les Fascismes Americaines 1924 - 41" Revue d’Histoire du Fascisme, Le Trait, 1975, pp. 73-82.
31 “Programme of the Silver Shirt Legion of America;’ Christian Sources Book, (Christian Front), Los Angeles, 1977, pp. 6- 8.

fascists, but as will become apparent, American fascism did not grow from this milieu. In any case, the Shirt movements began to decline from the mid 1930’s.

Despite the conditions of the Great Depression, the American people failed to become revolutionary and the absence of a really pre-revolutionary situation hindered the formation of mass movements of both Left and Right. Political fragmentation was the rule. The seemingly fascist groups of Pelley and Winrod lacked a social base and could be seen as aspects of socio-psychological crisis rather than elements of a new movement. (32) Their competing leaders could see no way to unity. On that basis, as Arthur Schlesinger observed, it was not accidental that Lawrence Dennis, the major ideologue of 1930’s American fascism, pointed to the amorphous “populist” groups, with monomanic “solutions” to economic crisis as more likely popular sources for an American fascism. (33) For Dennis, the Shirts were playactors out of touch with actual American social movements. His faith as expressed in The Coming American Fascism centred on mass movements open to manipulation by fascist cadres. (34)

Francis Townsend’s Pension Plan organisation was one movement which attracted Dennis’s attention. Townsend argued for high pension payments to the aged to increase their purchasing power, and during 1933-34 found himself the

32 Edward Robb Ellis, A Nation In Torment: The Great American Depression 1929-39, New York, 1971, pp. 169-70, 479-80.
33 Arthur M. Schlesinger, The Politics Of Upheaval, Boston, 1960, pp. 72, 77, 78-9.
34 Lawrence Dennis, The Coming American Fascism, New York, 1936, pp. viii, 52.

leader of a mass organisation. While the economic basis of Townsend’s scheme was flawed, he was able to mobilise over a hundred thousand Americans. For Dennis’s circle, American fascism required populist, or more correctly, demagogic economic theories, to win such support. On that basis they lent enthusiastic support to Huey Long’s Share Our Wealth organisation. When Long observed that fascism would come to America in the guise of popular nationalism he expressed the essence of Dennis’s programme and his perception of American fascism. (35) For Dennis, American fascism had to approximate ideas which had grown out of the American historical experience, colour itself with American imagery and address itself to real American issues. It could not be copied from an overseas example. In his The Dynamics Of War And Revolution, Dennis wrote:

To me, in 1933-6, as now, the idea then being advanced on Park Avenue and lower Third Avenue, that the demogogue of a popular national socialist movement with a private army of the people under his orders could be the Charlie McCarthy of big businessmen, was utterly ridiculous. A repetition of the Hitler formula in the United States seems unlikely for several reasons. One reason is that the capitalists are now on to it. The American capitalist probably cannot be kidded into walking into the fascist spider’s parlour as a refugee against communism. When Hitler came to power, the best society in Germany and elsewhere regarded Mussolini as a saviour of capitalism and Hitler as a promising model of the same leadership... But it would not be futile for any aspiring

35 Lawrence Dennis, “Fascism for America", in R. L. Delorme, (ed.) Anti Democratic Trends in Twentieth Century America, Addison, 1969, p. 168.

American national socialist to pass the hat among the American plutocracy unless he offered a promise of such reaction that he could not possibly secure a popular following... (36)

Since Dennis’s position was that American fascism had to work its way into power on the coat-tails of other movements, Long’s radical slogans attracted him. Long was certainly no Caesar but, if applied, Long’s policies could have cleared the way to fascism. Long’s assassination wiped out this opportunity. The 1936 Presidential election virtually ended the Townsend movement also. Townsend, along with Long’s successor, Gerald L. K. Smith, had rallied behind the candidacy of William Lemke, a rural politician, but Lemke was humiliated...(37) Only one other “populist” movement remained as a possible basis for American fascism - Father Coughlin’s National Union For Social Justice.

Section Two: The Realignment: The Emergence of American Fascism

1936 was a high point for Roosevelt. Certainly conservatives and Extreme-Rightists rallied against him over the Supreme Court controversy of 1937 but a slight easing of the Depression deflated the Extreme-Right. No charismatic leader able to unite the disparate factions of the Extreme-Right emerged. While fascist parties were active in Europe, the fascist cause languished in the United

36 Lawrence Dennis, The Dynamics Of War And Revolution, Torrance, 1980, pp. xxxii-xxxiv.
37 Edward Blackorby,.Prairie Rebel: The Public Life Of William Lemke, Lincoln, 1963, pp. 219-20.

States. Groups of a fascist complexion were not popular in the America of the period. As Sander Diamond observed1 many Americans came to believe in a vast conspiracy against America with gutter fascists acting as Hitler’s henchmen. (38) Organisations espousing their love of Hitler’s anti semitism, such as the German American Bund, or their fascist objectives, like the Christian Mobilisers, brought angry public reactions. To many Americans it appeared that domestic rightists were justifying implicitly the aggressive politics of European fascism. Generally, therefore, the American political environment became hostile to Extreme Right groups.

Liberal opinion attacked fascism in America as it had done overseas. Powerful Jewish and Left organisations spent time exposing American fascism. Faced with such pressure the Extreme Right had to oppose the drift to war without appearing too openly pro-Axis. Almost universally the Extreme Right believed that a war for democracy was wrong and this feeling emerged simultaneously with a loose isolationist movement. The question of war became the pivot around which the Extreme Right mobilised. As a popular movement espousing isolationism, it became a factor in the debate over whether the U.S. would go to war against Hitler. The fascists realised their opportunity. While radicals like Joe Mcwilliams, James True and Bill Edmonston saw the isolationist movement as a means to the end of preserving America as it was, fascists saw it as a

38. Sander Diamond, op. cit., p. 39.

popular movement which could serve as a springboard to power. (39)

Isolationism was a tenet of faith for America’s Founding Fathers and the early presidents. It was enshrined in George Washington’s Farewell Address and in the Monroe Doctrine, while adeep suspicion of the machinations of European diplomacy - particularly British diplomacy - was shared by many Americans. In 1940, the slogan “America First” came to represent this sentiment.

The opportunity given to fascism by the isolationist movement coincided with a growth of organisations of an American-fascist flavour, as opposed to the ‘Shirt’ and copyist groups of the mid 1930’s. The most significant development for fascism was Robert La Follette’s National Progressive Party. The La Follette family had been active both in the socialist movement and in the farmer-labor politics of the 1920’s. Robert La Follette ran for the presidency in 1924. In 1935, Robert La Follette Jr. launched his new party which obtained representation in the House of Representatives (a dozen seats) and the Senate (two Senators). (40) The National Progressives made no secret of their fervent nationalism and their desire to carry out a number of measures to curb laissez-faire capitalism. La Follette contended that capitalism was “doomed”, that it needed a firm harness placed upon it. The

39. Abraham Chapman, Nazi Penetration of America, New York, 1939, passim.
40 Francois Duprat and Alain Renault, op. cit., pp. 109, 110.

NPP advocated that the U.S. pursue a “hemisphere policy” in the Americas. (41) Victor Ferkiss, in his articles on American fascism, has seen the amalgam of policies advocated by the National Progressives as the essence of the U.S. fascist phenomenon. (42)

Not surprisingly, Dennis’s circle, gravitated towards the new party. Certain small fascist-like groups affiliated to the National Progressives and, in 1940, the party was rechristened “The America First Party.” The new party immediately became the largest faction of the U.S. Extreme Right.

But Father Coughlin’s National Union For Social Justice was moving in the same ideological direction. Coughlin’s movement had always been in favour of fundamental economic reform, unlike the Shirt-movements and groups like those. directed by Gerald Winrod. The programme advocated by the N.U.S.J. involved nationalisation of credit and big corporations, minimum wages and a planned economy. The leader of N.U.S.J. had viewed himself as in the tradition of Pitchfork Ben Tillman and the trust busters of the progressive era. (44) He too opposed America’s drift to war.

41 “Programme for America First: The National. Progressive Party Platform for Congress,” Christian Sources Book op. cit., pp. 80-84.
42 Victor C. Ferkiss, “Populist Influences on American Fascism;’ Western Political Quarterly, June, 1957, pp. 355-360. Ferkiss wrote: “There is naturally no pseudo-mystic exaltation of the state as such and nationalism takes the form of isolationism:” This permitted groups like the National Progressives to support America First agitation.
43 Francois Duprat and Alain Renault, op. cit., p. 66.
44 ibid., p. 46.

In 1938, Coughlin renamed his movement the Christian Front and co-operated closely with the Christian Mobilisers and others. In November 1940, Coughlin lent his support to the America First Party. (45) R. Swing in his Forerunners Of American Fascism (1935) likened Coughlin to a “drummer” for the future American fascism and his movement was viewed as an embryonic American fascist party. (46)

Far greater in long term potential than the efforts of La Follette or Coughlin was the America First Committee (AFC), founded in 1941 by General Wood and Eddy Rickenbacker, with Charles Lindbergh as its leading spokesman. John Roy Carlson has attempted to suggest that organisational and clear ideological links existed between the AFC and small crank anti-semitic and fascist sects. (47) The case is over­drawn and the protagonists of this argument more than biased. For example, the International League Against War and Fascism, a communist front organisation, agreed with Carlson’s line of argument. That which was not marxist or in favour of popular-front forms of democracy was “fascist” (48) Nonetheless, the AFC did have the support of extremist sects and the endorsement of the America First Party. Through the issue of American involvement in the war, Lindbergh gained some

45 John Roy Carlson, Under Cover: My Four Years In the Nazi Underground Of America, New York, 1943, pp. 239-270.
46 Roy G. Swing, Forerunners Of American Fascism, New York, 1969, passim.
47. John Roy Carlson., passim.
48 Against War And Fascism, International League Against War and Fascism, New York, 1940, passim.

public and possibly electoral support. (49) Lindbergh had been influenced by European fascism; he had toured Europe in 1936 and had met Hermann Goering, while his wife had written a book, The Wave Of The Future, predicting a fascist Europe. Lindbergh was a confirmed neutralist and nationalist. He reasoned that Nazi Germany was not a threat to the United States and he publicly associated his neutralism with the isolationism of the early U.S. presidents. (50) Echoing the fascist groups, Lindbergh claimed that the Roosevelt Administration was aiming for war with Germany. The AFC pledged to field candidates in the 1942 House of Representatives election, but Pearl Harbour cut the movement short. The AFC was still holding mass rallies on the eve of war, rallies held as Carlson noted, with the support of many Extreme Right and fascist groups. (51) It would follow that these organisations hoped that the Lindbergh agitation would be to their advantage and that Lindbergh held beliefs not too distant from their own. Lawrence Dennis said as much. (52) In other words, the America First Committee was to be manipulated by the smaller but more militant America First Party.

Whether fascists could have controlled the AFC is

49 Manfred Jones, Isolationism In America 1935-1941, New York, 1966, pp.254-265.
50 Charles Lindbergh, The Des Moines Speech Of September 1941, Metarie, 1975.
51 John Roy Carison, op. cit., p. 256.
52 Lawrence Dennis, The Dynamics, pp 210-19, indicates the parameters of an American isolationism, carefully avoiding any direct reference to Lindbergh while echoing everything he said.

a hypothetical question. Certainly they had a stake in it and were not repudiated by Lindbergh. But the war destroyed not only the AFC but the La Follette organisation and created an anti-fascist atmosphere in which the right generally declined.

Section Three: Some Observations On The Pre World War Two Extreme Right (53)

The American Extreme Right has never been ideologically homogeneous It embraces several broad tendencies, many of which have operated from the 1930’s until the present.(54) However lines of descent were broken by organisational fragmentation. The Extreme Right embraced movements as diverse as Pelley’s Silver Shirts, Coughlin’s national socialist National Union for Social Justice, and General Moseley’s Constitutionalist Movement. Its fascist wing produced Lawrence Dennis and Ezra Pound; its Christian wing spawned Leslie Fry and Elizabeth Dilling, writers whose conspiratorial theories of history bordered on the paranoid. Serious movements which could have developed along the fascist path, and actual fascist movements, were often overshadowed by the Shirt Movements or foreign-inspired ethnic groups like the Fascist League of North America or the German-American Bund. Media sensationalising followed by a dearth of historical enquiry into American fascism has left the

52 I have excluded from the category “Extreme Right” groups which are purely reactionary. It is a prejudice of U.S. liberals to lump reactionaries and radicals in the same category.
53 Such strands include fundamental-nationalists, the Klans, fascists, extreme anti-semites.

student with a vague picture of Bundist rallies and Christian-fundamentalist agitation as his understanding of the 1930’s Extreme Right. These activities discredited the native right in the 1930’s and have distorted the issues.It is not altogether surprising then that Leland Bell sought to find the roots of Rockwell’s Nazi movement in the German-American Bund. (55) Despite it contacts with native American groups, the Bund, through its desire to further German foreign policy, isolated itself from American politics. Fritz Kuhn, Bund fuhrer, explained the essence of Bundism in these terms:

If we prefer the term American German to the term German-American we do so, for the same reason for which former German Russians called themselves Russian Germans... namely for the reason that we are first of all Germans by race, in blood, in language. We belong to the great Commonwealth of German peoples on this earth. By obtaining other citizenship we have not lost our German character. We are what we are: Germans in America, American Germans because we did not become Americans. (56)

The mere existence of the Bund may have prompted George Seldes to write after the war, that the American Right was simply an alien development and was obviously foreign inspired. (57) The great Sedition Trial (1942-4), which saw U.S. Extreme Right figures charged with being Nazi agents, probably reinforced the view. On these bases,

55 Leyland Bell, In Hitler’s Shadow: The Anatomy Of American Nazism, New York, 1976, passim.
56 Sander Diamond, op. cit., p. 218.
57 George Seldes, One Thousand Americans, New York, 1947, passim.

the roots of an American fascism could only become obscured and the continuity of the movement broken. For example, with the exception of Francis Parker Yockey, no post-war fascist grasped the significance of the synthesis of ideas achieved behind the slogan “America First” (58) The Extreme Right and its critics alike failed to perceive the nature of native American fascism. American fascism had two major ideologues: Ezra Pound and Lawrence Dennis. Although Pound’s inspiration came from European sources, Victor Ferkiss has pointed out that his understanding of fascism was certainly American. (59) Pound conceived fascism as a universal ideology, but believed that, in practice, it applied time-tested American ideals. The modern dictators, he regarded as recapitulations of Washington and Jefferson. (60) Pound’s understanding of European fascism was a misunderstanding since he reasoned that first Mussolini, then Hitler, were applying populist economics, that they aimed to overthrow “international usury and establish a sort of Social-Credit economic system. (61) Pound found in European fascism a certain vigour which he believed had been lost in the United States. How widely

58 Francis Parker Yockey expounded his perception of American fascism in Imperium: The Philosophy Of History And Politics, Sausalito, 1969 and The Proclamation of London, Auckland, 1981. Imperium was heavily indebted to Lawrence Dennis and made frequent reference to the “American nationalists".
59 Victor C. Ferkiss, “Ezra Pound and American Fascism,” Journal Of Politics, Vol. 17, May 1958, p. 179.
60 Erza Pound, Jefferson and/or Mussolini, New York, 1955
61 William M. Chase, The Political Identities of Ezra Pound And T. S. Eliot, Stanford, 1973, p. 20, pp. 46- 7.

Pound’s views were supported in pre World War Two America is open to debate, but perhaps Pound’s position was symptomatic bf the simplistic economic theories of the American right-wing. Lawrence Dennis was a different matter, since he did command influence. However, until the neo-fascist journal Instauration resurrected his ideas, the memory of Dennis had faded badly. (62) This may point, once again, to a break in the continuity of American fascism. Nonetheless, in his day Dennis presented a coherent critique of American society based on a restatement of the frontier thesis. Basically, Dennis believed that America’s horizons had been limited by 1900; that an American imperialism had become necessary to continue the vigour of pioneer America and that this imperialism could only arise after a thorough-going revolution against the ethics of American capitalism. (63) Dennis found the puritan-religious ethic of America a retarding factor to the development of a political imperialism and a mature, rational social order. Dennis’s attempt to arm American fascism with an historical theory was not unlike what Spengler tried to do for German fascism, Julius Evola for Italian fascism and Henry Williamson for British fascism; or, perhaps, Rockwell in 1960’s American fascism.

62 “The Lost American: The Life Of Lawrence Dennis,” Instauration, July 1978, pp. 6-9.
63 Lawrence Dennis, Is Capitalism Doomed?, New York, 1932, passim.
64 Alistair Hamilton, The Appeal of Fascism: A Study Of The Intellectuals And Fascism, London,1971, establishes the importance of an historical theory for fascist parties. This is a trait of fascism.

Dennis’s intelligence, which showed in his writings, gave him an audience in the 1930’s far beyond that of the purveyors of conspiracy ideology. But the synthesis of ideas which he arrived at in 1940 came too early and it failed to survive the coming of war. It was, rather, the irrational tradition of the 1930’s Extreme Right which passed into currency. Theories spread by the anti communist groups of the 1960’s concerning the leftist essence of Roosevelt’s New Deal were first penned in the 1930’s. Other notions, such as Hitler was the Aryan messiah or deliverer from international banking capital, also appeared in that era. (65) The 1930’s Extreme-Right also managed to thoroughly confuse Christianity with practical politics, creating a tradition of religious-based tendencies against which Rockwell was forced to rebel. Many groups, including even supposed fascists, were touched by this. There were Christian Mobilisers, a Christian Front, the Gentile Party and others. Gerald L. K. Smith, for example, who began his career as a secretary to Huey Long, could not conceive of any activity which was not based on Christian principles. (66) Even today some groups espouse the idea that America is a Christian nation with a special relationship

65 Gail Anne Sindel, op. cit., p. 334. Also: “Colonel Eugene Nelsen Sanctuary,” Perseverance, August 15th, 1974. Sanctuary was a typical anti-semitic publicist who was convinced Hitler was fighting “the bankers” He associated with Rockwell in the 1950’s.
66 G. L. K. Smith, “We Take Our Stand,” in R. L. Delorme, (ed.), Anti Democratic Trends in Twentieth Century America, Chicago, 1969, pp. 188-192. Also: “Platform Of The Christian Nationalist Crusade,” Christian Nationalist Crusade, Los Angeles.

to God. (67)

The 1930’s Extreme Right managed to produce a peculiar trend antithetical to the emergence of an American fascism. Fascism, regardless of its national colour, has been a collectivist creed. The U.S. Extreme Right, in league with conservative groups, has fostered an individualist ideology. Fred Morgner in his study of conservative groups and the U.S. Constitution observed in them:

... an extreme commitment to decentralised government and states’ rights accompanied by a tendency to fear the centralisation of power as a bureaucratic totalitarianism, and a firm belief that property rights are synonomous with human rights. (68)

In the 1930’s militant Shirt movements stood for states’ rights; G. L. K. Smith’s 1942 programme condemned “bureaucratic fascism”; the 1960’s National States' Rights Party wished to decentralise Washington’s power. Down to 1970 only Coughlin, La Follette, Dennis, Yockey and Rockwell had opposed this trend. The individualist argument seemingly keeps many activists out of the fascist orbit. (69)

67 Such groups include, the National States Rights Party, New Christian Crusade Church, United Klans of America and Israel- Identity Churches. The writings of Dr. Wesley Swift are popular in this area.
68 Fred Morgner, “Ultra Conservative Response to Supreme Court Judicial Behaviour: A Study in Political Alienation, 1935-65,” University of Minnesota Ph.D., 1970, p. xiii.
69 Fred Morgner, passim. Anti-collectivism was expressed in the John Birch Society where militant anti-Marxists saw fascism as part of the communist movement.

Section Four: The Immediate Background to Rockwell 1945-60

The post war Right, both in the United States and Europe, laboured under the shadow of European fascism. To equate any movement with Auschwitz was to discredit it. (70) Nationalism, authoritarianism, racism and elitism, the themes of fascism, became disreputable ideas in the post war world. While some European governments legally dissolved organisations of a neo-fascist hue, the United States government used other mechanisms to curb the Extreme Right. The case of G. L. K. Smith is illustrative and served Rockwell as a clear example.

During World War Two, Smith founded the Christian Nationalist Crusade and the Cross And The Flag magazine. Though his movement was in the Winrod-line, Smith’s “nationalist movement” provided shelter for many extremist elements. (71) Smith hoped to attract war veterans to his banner through strident anti-communism and Americanist slogans. (72) By 1947, he had run foul of the Left and found his meetings militantly opposed both by the Communist Party and the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party. Smith was also attacked in a film, Gentleman’s Agreement, which starred Gregory Peck. This film maintained that Smith was as loathsome as New York City thugs

70 Roger Manvell and Heinrich Frankel wrote books along this line. The British “anti fascist monthly” journal, Searchlight, specialised in this. The Anti Defamation League of B’nai B’rith in the United States published propaganda equating all rightist groups with Nazism.
71 John Roy Carlson, The Plotters, New York, 1946, p. 106.
72 ibid., p. 107.

who bashed elderly Jews. (73) Short of costly litigation, with which he did not proceed, Smith had no real reply to such a broadside The Anti Defamation League of B’nai B’rith (ADL.), a Jewish agency dedicated to exposing and opposing anti-semitism, was also keenly interested in Smith’s campaign. One American Nazi Party leaflet, which reproduced an ADL. letter with commentary, gave evidence of the extent of the ADL. campaign against Smith. The ADL boasted that it had “corralled” Smith and that newspapers had been “co-operative” in denying Smith publicity. (74) It is likely that ADL. operations had some effect on Smith’s movement. From the largest Extreme Right group of the late 1940’s, the CNC lapsed into the status of a mere publishing organisation, which occasionally organised lectures and seminars. Smith’s case may not have been an isolated example. The Atlanta-based Columbians, a racist-nationalist party, was infiltrated by the FBI and, in 1948, its leader, Wallace Allen, (later a close friend of Rockwell) was jailed, allegedly for possessing explosives. The Ku Klux Klan, reformed by Dr. Green in 1947.also found itself under close scrutiny and was effectively banned in several states by “anti-mask” laws. (75)

The advent of the Cold War, however, produced a

73 The film was produced in 1956. The credits were largely Jewish.
74 The Jewish Paper Curtain, leaflet, American Nazi Party, 1961.
75 Arnold S. Rice, The Ku Klux Klan In American Politics, Washington D.C., 1962, pp. 109-113.

situation which was definitely more favourable to the Extreme Right. The Cold War period served as the catalyst for American Nazism. Once anti-communism became more respectable, racist and anti semitic groups could coalesce using patriotic rhetoric as a shield against the accusation of fascism. (76) The Extreme Right justified its existence by alluding to treason in high places, creeping socialism and the subversive activities of the CPUSA. The McCarthyist agitation fueled its efforts.

Senator Joe McCarthy’s crusade to force alleged communists and left-wing liberals out of political office created an atmosphere of hysteria - pro and con - in Cold War America. While McCarthy himself formed no movement to endorse his actions, several extremist groups emerged to make capital out of McCarthy’s “revelations". Conde McGinley’s Christian Educational Association, which published Common Sense, a journal printed in 100,000 copies, was one such organisation.

The C.E.A. was not an anti communist force, but it was anti-semitic. For the CEA, communism was simply applied Judaism. (77) McGinley believed that the whole Right had to be united into a single organisation with an anti-semitic platform. With such a perspective CEA organised the American Nationalist Conference of 1952, a meeting which Rockwell attended, together with longstanding activists

76 Angelo del Boca and Mario Giovanna, Fascism Today: A World Survey, London, 1970, pp. 330-335.
77 Common Sense, Vol. VI, No. 179, Feb. 15, 1953, p. 3.

like Leslie Fry and Elizabeth Dilling. The indecisive nature of the Conference foreshadowed the history of the Extreme Right in the 1950’s. The 1950’s Extreme Right was a myriad of competing factions, associations, leagues and unions. It contained three major formations, each relevant to the emergence of U.S. Nazism.

Firstly, there was the National Renaissance Party led by James Madole. This uniformed New York-centred organisation of a few hundred members was essentially a neo-nazi party (albeit with peculiar opinions on the USSR and the colonial revolutions - supported because of their anti-American and anti-Zionist components). (79) It was run on the “leadership principle” encouraged violent confrontation with the Left, spoke of the “Aryan Race” and believed Hitler’s Nazism to be the only real anti-Marxist movement of the twentieth century. It condemned American Jewry for its Zionism. (80) Although the NRP failed to prosper, it did attract substantial publicity. The American Nazis, by comparison, were more propagandistically vulgar and provocative. Nonetheless the NRP was a step in that direction; like Rockwell’s party it tried to gain media attention by cultivating notoriety.

The second force in the Extreme Right was the American Nationalist Party. It was similar to the NRP in its message, but its basic philosophy had less of the exotic. It was in favour of an authoritarian “social state,” was anti-semitic and believed in “action” to win its goals. (81)

78 Common Sense, Vol. VI, No. 164, June 15, 1952, pp. 1-2. Rockwell met these persons again after this Conference in Chicago in 1958 (Colonel Eugene Sanctuary,” Perseverence, op. cit.).
79 “The National Renaissance Party,” in R. L. Delorme, (ed.), op. cit., p. 171.
80 National Renaissance Bulletin, July, 1957.
81 American Nationalist, April, 1957

Rockwell was in close contact with its leaders. As with the NRP, it opposed “educational wake-up-America” campaigns in favour of political action. It alienated much of the Right, but impressed Rockwell.(82)

The major aspect of the 1950’s Extreme Right was the Citizens’ Councils Movement of America, formed in response to Federal sponsored racial desegregation in the South. The movement contained many Dixiecrat politicians of the 1940’s and a plebian radical element, making it a schizophrenic phenomenon torn between legalism and violent action. (83) Close confidants of Rockwell, such as John Kasper, sought to turn the Councils into a political:party, but failed to do so. Nonetheless, it was a broad racist movement embracing all social classes, and both Protestants and Catholics in an anti-Negro, anti-communist front. The Councils’ mobilisation was similar in practice to the sort of movement advocated by Rockwell in the 1960’s - with one exception. The 1960’s movement was to be all-American, not Southern, in tone. It would not, therefore, be “defensive” of Jim Crowism, but positive in its advocacy of White Power. (84) Rockwell had been influenced by John Kasper and, perhaps through Kasper, assimilated some of the aims and ideals of the Council movement. Certainly in one respect the Council movement contributed to Rockwell’s thinking. By 1957 Rockwell had become a revolutionary. Meantime, the Councils,

82 George Lincoln Rockwell, This Time the World, 1975, p. 218. (No city publication.)
83 Neil R. McMillan, The Citizen’s Council: Organised Resistance to the Second Reconstruction, 1954-64, Chicago, 1971, p. 192.
84 George Lincoln Rockwell, White Power, Dallas, 1967, pp. 403, 435.

under the influence of Senator Talmadge, George Wallace and Governor Faubus opted to obstruct desegregation “legally” through state legislatures by passing various laws to cushion Federal edicts. In a meeting with certain radical contacts in Nashville, Rockwell condemned this aspect of the Council movement. That the movement was defensive was wrong, Rockwell argued; that it had no fundamental solution to the questions of racial tension with its conservative leaders, was a sort of treason. (86)

Overall, the emergence of the Citizens’ Councils was symptomatic of a certain split in the 1950’s Right, between its primarily racist and primarily anti-communist wings. The Cold War was on the wane by the late 1950’s and, simultaneously, the racial question was moving to the fore as an explosive issue. In the South, firstly, there was a sudden surge in the development of new racist parties and Klans. Much of this ferment culminated in the birth of the National States' Rights Party in 1958 , the leaders of which were well known to Rockwell. In the North the situation was different.

Since race was not, in the late 1950’s, as important a question for the Right in the North, it may be no accident that anti-communist groups like the John Birch Society, Kent Courtney’s Conservative Lobby and the Fred Schwarz’s Christian Anti Communist Crusade grew rapidly there.

85 Neil R. McMillan, op. cit., pp. 168, 175, 274.
86 George Lincoln Rockwell, op. cit., pp. 258-261.

The Cuban Crisis, the Berlin blockade and other examples of Soviet bellicosity spurred this movement. These groups were shorn of racist anti-semitism, favoured free enterprise and waved the flag for right-wing Republicans. These “super patriots” were scarcely a “Thunder on the Right” (87) As civil rights questions became more important in the North, there was a vacuum on the Right which came to be partially filled by Rockwell’s Nazis.

In his book White Power, Rockwell remarked that by the mid-1950’s, ten million Americans supported “our movement” - which he defined as the anti-communist right. Whereas the 1950’s Right had tried to “wake up America” and get another ten million supporters, Rockwell urged that the already existing ten million should “stand up.” (88) However, this implied a certain conversion of the anti-communists to racism and anti-semitism, to action-orientated politics and revolution. Rockwell’s movement was linked, therefore, to the failures of the anti-communist and racist groups in the North and the South. It was designed to reverse “fifty years of failure,” to win the ordinary man through a radical programme presented by radical propaganda. (89)

Thus, there were many varied roots for American fascism. An American fascism had evolved by the late 1930’s. It was different in programme and motivation from the host of endemic Extreme Right organisations of those

87 Richard Schmuck and Mark Chester, “On Superpatriotism: A Definition and Analysis,” Journal Of Social Issues, Vol. 19, No. 2, April, 1963, pp. 31-51.
88 George Lincoln Rockwell, White Power, p. 383.
88 ibid, pp. 373-79.

years. The difficulty for American fascism after the Second World War has been noted as its inability to dis­entangle itself from the fundamentalist and anti-communist groups of the 1940’s and 1950’s. Whereas in the 1930’s the fascists possessed leaders such as Coughlin, Dennis and through their pressure-tactics, a certain control over Lindbergh, the fascist synthesis of native-nationalism, populist economics and racism had no exponent in the 1950’s. The ‘honour’ of creating such a synthesis would belong to George Lincoln Rockwell in the 1960’s.



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American Nazism In The Context Of The American Extreme Right 1960 - 1978