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Back to the bourgeoisie

The photo page from the October 6 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star continues to be a source of blog entries! Here’s a photo from that day’s edition of a retired United States Marine general.

Smedley Butler (1881-1940) had received more decorations than any other Marine at the time of this photograph. He was one of 19 men who had been awarded the Medal of Honor twice, and was one of only three men to ever have received the Marine Corps Brevet Medal.

His retirement had just started a few days before this photograph was taken, and was hastened when he revealed that Italian dictator Benito Mussolini had allegedly struck and killed a child in a hit-and-run accident. When the Italian government protested, Butler was placed under arrest and was set to be court-martialed; eventually, he was just reprimanded.

In 1933, Butler claimed that a group of American businessmen were plotting to overthrow President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and establish a fascist dictatorship. Hearings revealed that, while some members of the Business Plot, as it became known, were serious about the coup, it hadn’t gotten much past the discussion or idle chatter stage.

By this time, Butler had become disillusioned with what he referred to as the profit motive behind warfare. In a socialist magazine called Common Sense, Butler wrote:

I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer; a gangster for capitalism.

He then wrote a book titled War Is A Racket. Butler later retired to Pennsylvania and passed away from what was apparently gastro-intestinal cancer.

One reply on “Back to the bourgeoisie”

I like your articles & the search for meaning & depth. I was looking for H.H. Roxborough(Henry Hall) and your blog came up with no mention of him, tho Gen. Butler is a pleasant surprise. I’d appreciate it if you could find HH in your data base to share. Thank you

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